(Courtesy of Iowa Athletics)
Luka Garza, the 2020 National College Basketball Player of the Year by six major news outlets and Big Ten Player of the Year, announced on Sunday that he is returning to the University of Iowa for his senior season.
“My heart is in Iowa City,” said Garza. “I love this place too much to leave it. I love my teammates, coaches, community, fans, and the university. It would have been way too hard to close the book without the last chapter.”
Garza is one of five players since 1975, and first since 2008, to return to school after being recognized as the Sporting News National Player of the Year. The other four players are Tyler Hansbrough (2008), Dee Brown (2005), Michael Jordan (1983), and Ralph Sampson (1982).
The Washington, D.C., native had a historic season in 2019-2020, leading the nationally-ranked UI men’s basketball team to 20 victories and a likely NCAA Tournament berth if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Garza said that not having the opportunity to achieve two of its goals last March — winning the conference tournament and making an NCAA Tournament run — was difficult.
“With the overall depth, length, and experience that we have returning I believe we have a group determined to make the most of this season,” Garza said. “There will be a lot of preseason hype, but that doesn’t mean anything; at the end of the day, it’s what we do when the ball is tipped. We have goals of where we want to be, but right now it’s not about winning championships; it’s about taking it one day at a time so we can be the best team possible.”