IOWA MEN'S BASKETBALL VS ILLINOIS

Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com

Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com

Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com

Iowa Hawkeyes forward Luka Garza (55) pulls up for a three point basket against the Illinois Fighting Illini this past winter at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City. Garza, recognized as the college player of the year by multiple publications, announced this weekend he will be returning to Iowa to play his final year for the Hawkeyes.

IOWA CITY – The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today the 2021 Naismith Trophy Watch List, which includes University of Iowa All-American Luka Garza, who was a finalist for the 2020 Men’s Player of the Year honor.

Over the last couple weeks, Garza has been named the only unanimous Associated Press Preseason All-American, Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, and named to the Kareem Abdul Jabbar Center of the Year Award Watch List, an award that he won last April.

“The beginning of the season is filled with excitement, optimism and anticipation as each team and every player is undefeated, making the race for the Naismith Trophy wide open. While these 50 candidates are those to keep an eye on, there will be plenty of others who will enter the competition throughout the season,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “This year will be especially exciting as players who were unable to finish their seasons last year have even more to prove.”

Garza was a dominant force in 2019-20, earning National Player of the Year (six national media outlets) and Big Ten Player of the Year distinction, along with earning consensus first-team All-America laurels. Garza (740 points and 305 rebounds) was one of three Big Ten players to ever to total 740+ points and 300+ rebounds in a single season. He ranked second nationally with 12 20-point/10-rebound performances, 20-point games (25); third in total field goals made (287), 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. Garza averaged 26.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 12 games against AP ranked opponents in 2019-20, including recording 11 straight 20-point performances, the longest streak by any player since UConn’s Kemba Walker in 2011.

The native of Washington, D.C., finished the 20-game conference schedule averaging 26.2 points per game, becoming the first player to average at least 26 points in Big Ten play since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994 (31.1 ppg). Garza scored a school-record 740 points in 2019-20, breaking the program’s 50-year old record previously set by John Johnson in 1970. He 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.

A list of the midseason 30 team will be released in early February, followed by the 10 national semifinalists and four finalists on March 4, 2021, and March 16, 2021, respectively. The 2021 Naismith Trophy will be awarded during the Final Four on April 4, 2021.

Garza and the No. 5/6 Iowa Hawkeyes tipoff their 2020-21 season on Wednesday, Nov. 25, against North Carolina Central. The contest is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.

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