Last year after a brilliant junior season in which he average 23.9 ppg and 9.7 rpg, Luka Garza won a handful of Player of the Year awards, but was shut out from most of the major PotY awards in favor of Dayton's Obi Toppin. Garza returned this year and put up dazzling numbers again: 24.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.6 bpg, 0.7 spg, and a 55/71/44 shooting line. He was superb, night after night, despite playing in the nation's toughest conference (in the regular season, at least). Well, it's Player of the Year season again -- and this time the awards are recognizing the Peacock for the great player that he is and for the outstanding season that he had.
On Thursday, the AP named Garza their Men's Basketball Player of the Year:
AP NATIONAL POY— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) April 1, 2021
Senior @LukaG_55 is the first Hawkeye and 12th player from a Big Ten school to win the @AP_Top25 College Basketball Player of the Year Award.
Congrats, Luka! pic.twitter.com/GUcoUD11J2
The vote was not close: Garza earned 50 out of 63 total votes from AP Top 25 voters. Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu finished second, with six votes.
Garza becomes the first men's Iowa player -- ever -- to be named AP Player of the Year. (Megan Gustafson became the first Iowa basketball player, men's or women's, to earn AP Player of the Year honors when she won the award two years ago.) That's quite an honor, given how many very good (and great) players Iowa has had over the years. Only Garza has been able to climb this particular mountain.
The AP Player of the Year Award is arguably the biggest PotY honor Garza has received thus far, but it's not the only one. He previously received player of the year honors from The Sporting News, Basketball Times, and The Athletic. Today he added the Oscar Robinson Trophy, awarded by the United States Basketball Writers Association, and the Lute Olsen National Player of the Year Award.
More Player of the Year awards loom on the horizon. The National Basketball Coaches Association award is handed out on Friday, and the big two -- the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award -- will be awarded on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively. If Garza were to sweep those honors, he would be the consensus national player of the year. That would be one hell of a cherry to put on top of the ice cream sundae that's been his Iowa career.
Garza ended his Iowa career with 2,306 points and 931 rebounds, truly staggering numbers. The 2,306 points is the most in Iowa history and the 7th most in Big Ten history. He's the only Big Ten player -- ever -- to have over 2,500 points and 900 rebounds in a career. Garza's name is going to be at or near the top of the record books for a long, long, long time. He had a truly magnificent career at Iowa and we were very fortunate to get to watch him dominate in black and gold for the last four years. Thank you, Luka.