Luka Garza receives Naismith Trophy, recognized as college basketball’s best player

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(Courtesy Iowa Athletics)

University of Iowa senior Luka Garza is the recipient of the 2021 Naismith Trophy, the most prestigious individual basketball honor presented annually to college basketball’s most outstanding player. The announcement was made Saturday afternoon on CBS Sports Network by Barry Goheen, Atlanta Tipoff Club chairman.

Iowa is one of just six institutions to have both a men’s and women’s Naismith Trophy honoree, joining Duke, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas, and Virginia. Megan Gustafson was the recipient of the 2019 Naismith Trophy following her senior season.

Garza will be presented the iconic Naismith Trophy, originally sculpted in 1982 by Atlanta’s Marty C. Dawe, on the University of Iowa campus this spring. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff Jones to the University of Iowa.

The most dominant player in men’s college basketball, Garza has been named national player of the year by all of the major organizations and publications, including the Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches, United States Basketball Writers Association (Oscar Robertson Trophy), Sporting News, Basketball Times, and The Athletic. Iowa’s first two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American is also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, which will be announced on Tuesday.

Garza led the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes to 22 victories and a third place Big Ten finish in 2021. The Washington, D.C., native led the nation in total points (747), player efficiency rating (35.84), 30-point games (8), field goals made (281), and 20-point games (22). Garza ranked second nationally in points per game (24.1), fifth in free throw attempts (199), 10th in free throw makes (141), and 11th in double-doubles (13). His 747 points extended the single-season school record he set last season (740).

“Luka just concluded a remarkable college career and had tremendous expectations to live up to all season long. He displayed complete dominance on the court throughout the course of an incredibly challenging basketball season,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year broke Iowa’s 32-year old scoring record held by Roy Marble on Feb. 21, 2021. He finished his Hawkeye career with 2,306 points, which ranks seventh-best in Big Ten history. In addition to ranking first in career scoring, Garza is tops at Iowa in 30-point games (13), conference scoring (1,399), field goals made (870), field goal attempts (1,594), and 40-point games (2); second in rebounds (931); fourth in double-doubles (34); fifth in blocked shots (154); sixth in free throw makes (446) and attempts (636); and 16th in 3-pointers made (120). He is the only men’s basketball player in Big Ten history to accumulate 2,250 points and 900 rebounds.

Garza was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading media members from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2020-21 college basketball season. Additionally, fans had the opportunity to cast a ballot. The Naismith fan vote accounted for five percent of the overall vote. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta.

For more information about the Naismith Awards, visit naismithtrophy.com.

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