Garza becomes first Hawkeye to win Big Ten Player of the Year

Iowa’s Luka Garza made history on Monday by becoming the first Hawkeye to win Big Ten Player of the Year.


Iowa center Luka Garza dunks the ball during a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Huskers at Carver-Hawkeye arena on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers 96-72.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Luka Garza made Iowa history on Monday when he became the first Hawkeye to earn Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year honors.

A heavy favorite to win the award, Garza finished the season averaging 23.9 points per game on 54.2 percent shooting to go along with 9.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

“This is a dream come true,” Garza said in a release. “Being the first Hawkeye to win this award in 52 years means the world to me. You dream of moments like this. I want to thank my teammates and coaches. To be honest, if I wasn’t in this program, I don’t think any of this would be possible.”

Garza closed the season by scoring at least 20 points in 16 straight Big Ten games, breaking Glenn Robinson’s record of 15 games in a row that he set in 1994. The Washington native averaged 26.2 points a game in conference play alone. That number marks the fifth-most in league play since 1975.

He also finished the season averaging 26.7 points and 11.1 rebounds against ranked opponents.

Garza also earned a spot as a unanimous selection on the All-Big Ten first team. He was joined by Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, Penn State’s Lamar Stevens, Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu (media), and Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. (coaches).

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has coached a first-team All-Big Ten player in five of the last seven seasons — Garza (2020), Devyn Marble (2014), Aaron White (2015), Jarrod Uthoff (2016), and Peter Jok (2017).

Garza is also a candidate for five national awards, including Naismith Player of the Year and Wooden Award.

In addition to Garza’s honors, Joe Wieskamp was a third-team All-Big Ten honoree. CJ Fredrick also earned a spot on the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team.

Wieskamp ranks second on the team with 14.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Fredrick averaged 10.1 points a game and finished the season as the Big Ten leader in 3-point percentage at 46.1 percent.

Connor McCaffery was also selected as Iowa’s honoree for the Sportsmanship Award. He leads the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.59.

Garza and company have a chance to add to their totals when Iowa faces the winner of Wednesday’s Minnesota-Northwestern matchup in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis on Thursday.