IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa junior Luka Garza has been named the recipient of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. The announcement was made by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
Named after Hall of Famer and three-time NCAA Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its sixth year recognizes the top center in Division I men’s college basketball. He is the first Hawkeye to win the award and the third Big Ten player to earn the honor.
No player was more dominant in the paint in 2019-20 than Garza. Last week, the 6-foot-11 center was the recipient of the NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year Award.
Last month, six major news outlets named Garza as its national player of the year: Sporting News, Basketball Times, Stadium, Bleacher Report, FOX, and ESPN. He is the first Iowa men’s basketball player to earn national player of the year distinction. Garza was also a unanimous consensus first-team All-America selection. He joins former Hawkeyes Murray Wier (1948) and Charles Darling (1952) as the program’s only consensus first team All-Americans.
The Big Ten and USBWA District VI Player of the Year, 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 this season, 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.
Garza is the only Big Ten player to register seven 25-point/10-rebound performances in the same season in more than 17 years. He has produced the two highest point totals in a game by a Big Ten player this season (44 at Michigan; 38 at Indiana).