Garza, Clark named finalists for AAU James E. Sullivan Award

Clark or Garza could join Iowa wrestling’s Spencer Lee on the list of Hawkeyes that have won the Sullivan Award.


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)

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Former Iowa men’s basketball player Luka Garza and current Hawkeye women’s basketball point guard Caitlin Clark are both finalists for the Amateur Athletic Union James E. Sullivan Award, per a release.

Since 1930, the honor has typically been bestowed upon one amateur athlete — male or female — every year. The AAU created the Sullivan Award to recognize the contributions and achievements of athletes across the country.

The James E. Sullivan Award will be presented at the Rosen Center in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 22. A special recognition reception will be held with the Orlando Magic later that evening.

The Oct. 22 presentation of the Sullivan Award will recognize athletes’ achievement in 2020-21, not 2021-22.

Last season, Garza averaged 24.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He won all major national player of the year awards in 2020-21, most notably the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year Award and the Naismith National Player of the Year Award.

Garza also claimed the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Associated Press, Lute Olson, Sporting News, and NABC national player of the year awards.

Garza currently holds both the single-season and career scoring records at the UI. The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year scored 747 points in 2021 to not only set the single-season scoring record, but break Roy Marble’s career points record. Garza finished his Hawkeye career with 2,306 points.

In July, Garza won the Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award and was drafted by the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons. Garza was the 52nd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Clark earned her share of recognition in 2020-21 too. The now-sophomore was named a first-team All-American by The Athletic, the United States Basketball Writers Association, and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Clark led the nation in total assists (214), total points (799), points per game (26.6), field goals made (266), and 3-pointers made (116) last season. She ranked second in assists per game (7.1) and 3-pointers made per game (3.87).

The 6-foot-tall Iowan scored 26.6 points and corralled 5.9 rebounds per game in 2020-21 on her way to winning the Dawn Staley Award — which is given to the best point guard in all of NCAA Division I Women’s College Basketball annually.

“These exceptional athletes truly embody the spirit of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award,” said Jennings “Rusty” Buchanan, President and CEO of the AAU. “They’re not only top performers in their sport, but also display qualities of leadership, good character, and sportsmanship both on and off the field.”

A University of Iowa athlete claimed last year’s Sullivan Award: Spencer Lee. The Hawkeye wrestler was named a co-winner of the award alongside former Oregon women’s basketball player and current member of the WNBA’s New York Liberty Sabrina Ionescu.

Lee was just the fifth wrestler in history to win the James E. Sullivan AAU Award. Ionescu was the seventh basketball player to ever claim the honor.

Other noteworthy winners of the James E. Sullivan Award include former University of Tennessee quarterback and current Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and former Olympic Gold Medalist and University of Michigan swimmer Michael Phelps.

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