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College Basketball: Iowa’s Garza named Sporting News National Player of the Year


This news story was published on March 11, 2020.
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Luka Garza
hawkeyesports.com

IOWA CITY – University of Iowa center Luka Garza was named National Player of the Year by Sporting News on Tuesday, becoming the first player in program history to earn national player of the year distinction by a news outlet. Garza was also voted the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) District VI Player of the Year on Tuesday, as well as the all-district team. Joining Garza on the 10-player all-district squad is teammate Joe Wieskamp.

Garza and Wieskamp’s honor marks the sixth time in seven seasons that a Hawkeye has garnered all-district recognition (Devyn Marble in 2014; Aaron White in 2015; Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok in 2016; Jok in 2017; Cook in 2019; Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp in 2020).

Joining the Hawkeye duo on the 10-player all-district squad are Ty-Shon Alexander (Creighton); Udoka Azubuike (Kansas); Kristian Doolittle (Oklahoma); Devon Dotson (Kansas); Marcus Garrett (Kansas); AJ Green (UNI); Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State); and Douglas Wilson (South Dakota State).

Garza’s national and district accolades come one day after being named Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. Garza is the fourth Hawkeye in program history, and first since 1952, to earn the Big Ten’s top honor. He is a finalist for five national awards: Naismith Trophy, Oscar Robertson Trophy, Wooden Award, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, and the Lute Olson Award.

Garza ranks second nationally with 12 20-point/10-rebound performances, 20-point games (25) and field goals made (287); third in points per 40 minutes played (29.9), fifth in scoring (23.9), 10th in 30-point games (5), 19th in double-doubles (15) and offensive rebounds per game (3.58), and 34th in rebounding (9.8). His 15 double-doubles are third most in a single-season by a Hawkeye in three decades and the most since 2002 (Reggie Evans, 18). Garza is averaging 26.7 points and 11.1 rebounds in 12 games against AP ranked opponents, including recording 11 straight 20-point performances.

Garza finished the 20-game conference schedule averaging 26.2 points per game to become Iowa’s first scoring leader in Big Ten games only since Adam Haluska (21.3 ppg) in 2007. Garza is the first player to average at least 26 points in Big Ten play since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994 (31.1 ppg).

Garza is Iowa’s single-season scoring record holder with 740 points, breaking the program’s 50-year old record previously set by John Johnson in 1970. Garza has scored 20 points or more in a school-record 16 straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by any player in the Big Ten since Ohio State’s Dennis Hopson 16 in 1987. He is the fourth player nationally since 2007 to amass 700+ points, 300+ rebounds, 50+ blocks, and 35+ 3-pointers in a season (Frank Kaminsky, 2015; Michael Beasley, 2008; Kevin Durant, 2007).

Garza has scored 25 points or more 13 times this season, including the last three contests. The native of Washington, D.C., is the only Big Ten player to register seven 25-point/10-rebound performances in the same season in more than 17 years. He has produced the two highest point totals in a game by a Big Ten player this season (44 at Michigan; 38 at Indiana).

Wieskamp ranks second on the team in points per game (14.0) and rebounds (6.1), and is tied for 13th in the Big Ten in 3-pointers made per contest (1.7). The native of Muscatine, Iowa, ranks first in the Big Ten in free throw accuracy (.856) and has made his last 22 straight free throw attempts dating back to Feb. 13. A third-team All-Big Ten honoree, Wieskamp has posted three double-doubles, led the team in steals 10 times, and scored 15 points or more 13 times this season. Wieskamp posted career highs this season in scoring (30 vs. Nebraska), rebounds (11 vs. Maryland), assists (4 vs. Rutgers), blocked shots (2 vs. Minnesota), and free throws made (9 vs. Michigan).

No. 18 Iowa (20-11, 11-9) will open Big Ten Tournament play on Thursday against Minnesota/Northwestern. Tipoff is scheduled for approximately 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

LUKA GARZA HONORS
• 2020 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
• 2020 Sporting News National Player of the Year
• 2020 Bleacher Report National Player of the Year
• 2020 Seth Davis of The Athletic’s National Player of the Year
• 2020 USBWA District VI Player of the Year
• Wooden Award National Ballot
• Naismith Trophy Semifinalist
• Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Trophy Semifinalist
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Finalist
• Lute Olson Award Top 30

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