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Luka Garza named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award finalist


This news story was published on February 28, 2021.
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Men’s Basketball’s Luka Garza at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

IOWA CITY – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Friday the five finalists for the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, which includes University of Iowa senior All-American Luka Garza.

Other finalists include Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Purdue’s Trevion Williams, Evan Mobley of USC, and Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey.

Named after Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its seventh year recognizes the top centers in men’s college basketball. Garza was the recipient of the 2020 Kareem Abdul Jabbar Award and is seeking to become the first player to win in back-to-back seasons since the award was introduced in 2015. Fans can vote for Garza at hoophallawards.com.

Garza (6-foot-11, 265 pounds) has led the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes to 17 victories this season, including wins in four of their last five. He leads the nation in scoring (24.3 ppg), player efficiency rating (37.00); 30-point games (7); field goals made (216); and 22-point games (16). Garza is fifth nationally in free throw makes (118) and 14th in double-doubles (13).

The native of Washington, D.C., broke the school’s 32-year old record held by Roy Marble on Feb. 21 against Penn State. In addition to ranking first in career scoring, Garza is first at Iowa in conference scoring (1,340), total field goals made (805), field goal attempts (1,480), and 40-point games (2); second in 30-point games (12); fifth in double-doubles (31) and rebounding (860); sixth in blocked shots (140); eighth in free throw makes (423); and 14th in 3-pointers made (109).

He is the only men’s basketball player in Big Ten history to accumulate 2,000 points, 850 rebounds, 125 blocked shots, and 100 3-pointers and he is the only player from a major conference with those numbers dating back to the 1992-93 season. Garza is the only Hawkeye in school history to amass four 400-point seasons and is one of two Hawkeyes with two 575-point seasons.

The winner of the 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award will be presented on ESPN. Additional information about the award presentation, including date and time, will be released in the coming weeks.

Garza and the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes (17-7, 11-6) will challenge No. 4 Ohio State (18-6, 12-6) on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 3:05 p.m. (CT) at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

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