School records are in reach for Luka Garza if he returns for senior season

Assuming a men’s college basketball season is played amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Garza could climb the Hawkeye leaderboards.


Nichole Harris

Iowa center Luka Garza goes in for a shot during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Penn State on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 77-68. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball record book could look a lot different if Luka Garza decides to return to the Hawkeyes and play his senior season. That is, if a complete season even takes place.

The 6-foot-11 center will announce August 2 if he is returning to Iowa City for another year or keeping his name in the NBA Draft. The deadline for Garza and other draft hopefuls to decide is currently August 3.

The men’s college basketball season, like Garza’s looming decision, is also surrounded by uncertainty. Iowa is currently pausing voluntary workouts for 14 days after two student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The Big Ten has already announced a move to conference-only schedules for fall sports, but it’s currently unclear if any changes will be made to the men’s basketball schedule.

After a record-breaking junior year, Garza would be set up for another stellar season if he does come back to Iowa.

RELATED: Fran McCaffery supporting Luka Garza ahead of upcoming NBA decision

Garza on track to be Iowa’s all-time leading scorer

Roy Marble, who played for the Hawkeyes from 1986-89, still stands as the program’s all-time scoring leader with 2,116 career points.

Garza is only 557 points away.

For context, Garza set Iowa’s single-season scoring record last season with 740 points. He averaged 23.9 points across the team’s 31 games in 2019-20. The Washington, D.C., native has yet to crack the top 10 in Iowa’s scoring leaderboard, but he would quickly surpass players like Jess Settles and B.J. Armstrong as he climbed toward the top of the list.

Should Garza return for his final year of college basketball, likely the only thing that would stop him from surpassing Marble’s total — and other records — would be a shortened season.

Marble also holds the program records for field goals (787) and field goal attempts (1,459).

Garza converted on 287 field goals last season to bring his career total to 589. He has attempted 1,086 shots in his Hawkeye career, including 530 last season.

Rebounding record within reach

Along with his scoring, one of the elements of Garza’s game that significantly improved last season was his rebounding. Several opposing coaches complemented the jump Garza made in that area between his sophomore and junior years.

As a junior, Garza hauled in 305 rebounds (9.8 per game), 161 more than he tallied the season before and 5.3 more per game. He recorded almost two more offensive rebounds per game as a junior than he did as a sophomore (3.6 compared to 1.8).

With 660 career boards, Garza would make a significant climb up Iowa’s all-time list with another season as a Hawkeye.

Greg Brunner currently holds the Iowa record with 990 career rebounds.

If Garza matched his 2019-20 rebounding productivity through the same number of games as a senior, he would finish second on Iowa’s all-time leaderboard. With a slight increase in rebounds per game as a senior and enough games to do so, Garza could claim the top spot.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball pauses workouts following two positive COVID-19 tests

Top five shot blocker in school history?

Garza recorded more blocked shots last season than he did in his freshman and sophomore years combined. He averaged 1.8 blocks per game in 2019-20, bringing his career total to 104.

Acie Earl’s career record of 365 blocks is well out of reach. As are the second and third-place marks from Greg Stoke (229) and Erek Hansen (212). Jarrod Uthoff’s fourth place mark of 177 may even be safe.

But with another productive season as a rim protector, Garza could make it into the program’s top five. Melsahn Basabe currently sits in fifth place with 148 career blocks.

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