Iowa’s Luka Garza awarded 2021 men’s Wooden Award, secures consensus National Player of the Year honors

Garza was a finalist for the award in 2020 and is now the first player in the history of the Iowa men’s basketball program to earn the honor.


Casey Stone

Iowa Center Luka Garza celebrates during the Iowa Men’s Basketball game against Michigan State on Feb. 2, 2021 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Garza became the second Hawkeye men’s player ever to surpass 2,000 career points during the game. (Casey Stone/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The Los Angeles Athletic Club announced Tuesday that Iowa men’s basketball center Luka Garza is the winner of the 2021 John R. Wooden Award as the most outstanding player in men’s college basketball, becoming the first player in the history of the Hawkeye men’s basketball program to earn the honor.

Garza swept all the major postseason awards (Wooden, Naismith, Associated Press, Oscar Robertson, NABC, Lute Olson, Sporting News) to become the consensus unanimous men’s national player of the year for 2021.

“Winning the Wooden Award means so much to myself and my family,” Garza said in a release. “John Wooden was someone my grandfather was friends with, and someone who I was taught a lot about growing up. I studied the Pyramid, and many of his books to try and become the teammate and player that could win a championship.

“I can’t thank coach [Fran] McCaffery and his staff enough for their role in helping me develop on and off the floor. I have had amazing teammates along the way, and I would not be here without them. I want to thank my family for their undying support of me throughout my career. Lastly, thank you to the University of Iowa for changing my life. I am so proud to bring this award to the University of Iowa for the first time.”

Voting for the Wooden Award took place from March 15-22 by a national collection of voters who cover each of the sports and former winners.

Garza joins UConn’s Paige Bueckers, the Wooden Award honoree for women’s basketball, as the celebrated winners of one of the most prestigious honors in college basektball.

Garza (6-foot-11, 265 pounds) led an Iowa team that finished this season 22-9. The second-seeded Hawkeyes fell to Oregon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. As a senior, Garza scored 747 points (first nationally), breaking his own program record for points in a season. Garza posted eight 30-point games and 22 20-point games.

On the season, the consensus All-American averaged 24.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. Garza shot 55.3 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range.

The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 21.9 points per game during the 20-game conference schedule, becoming the third player since 1990 to lead the Big Ten in scoring in consecutive seasons (Michigan State’s Steve Smith and Evan Turner of Ohio State).

On Saturday, Garza was also named the recipient of the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. Named after Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its seventh year recognizes the top center in Division I men’s college basketball. Garza is the first player to win the award multiple times.

Garza broke the Iowa’s 32-year old scoring record held by Roy Marble on Feb. 21. Garza ended his Iowa career with 2,306 career points. Garza’s No. 55 is set to be retired now that his Hawkeye career is over.

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