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‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - No. 1 - Luka Garza

BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2020-’21 season.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2020-’21 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the ‘BTPowerhouse 25,’ which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

Today's edition will take a brief look at Luka Garza of the Iowa Hawkeyes, who topped our preseason Big Ten player rankings. The Hawkeyes enter this season with lofty expectations and plenty of media hype and Garza is a big reason for that excitement. This is arguably the best Iowa roster in several decades and could set things up for a special year. Fans are hoping it all comes together.

'BTPowerhouse 25' - No. 1 Luka Garza:

  • Eligibility: Senior
  • Career Totals: 96 games, 2,465 minutes, 232 points, 660 rebounds, 99 assists
  • 2019-’20 Averages: 32.0 min, 123.9 pts, 9.8 rebs, 1.2 asts, 1.8 blks, 0.8 stls
  • Positional Role: Power Forward/Center

Heading into last season, Garza had been a productive and reliable player for the Hawkeyes. He scored enough to keep teams honest and was decent on the boards. Most hoped he could take a moderate step forward as a junior. Instead, he turned into a legitimate superstar. His numbers exploded overnight and he ended up being named Big Ten Player of the Year. And his surprising return to campus now puts him on track to compete for a second such honor.

-Player Strengths

This section probably isn’t long enough to get into everything Garza does well on the court, but we’ll hit on at least a few of them here. To start, he’s an absolute monster down low. Garza is exceptionally difficult to defend in the paint, hitting an absurd 58.9 percent of his shots from two-point range and leading the Big Ten in fouls drawn. Even if you manage to avoid giving up a bucket, Garza’s probably getting to the line.

Garza is also a efficient player on the boards, avoids turnovers, and is a better shot blocker than many realize. He finished top 15 in the league in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate, 11th in the league in turnover rate, and 10th in block rate. Additionally, Garza does a great job of staying the floor, playing 84.2 percent of the team’s minutes during conference play last season, which ranked seventh in the Big Ten. You can’t be a great player if you’re not on the court and Garza delivers there as well.

-Areas for Improvement

There aren’t many areas where Garza needs to improve his game. After all, he was last year’s Big Ten Player of the Year and an easy All-American. Any criticism about Garza’s game is really just nitpicking. Any team would love to have him on their roster.

With all that said, Garza does have a few spots where he could elevate an already impressive skillset. To start, his perimeter shooting leaves something to be desired. He shoots well enough to keep defenses honest, but he only hit 33.7 percent of his three-point attempts during Big Ten play last season. Moreover, Garza has to do a better job on the defensive end this season. Iowa’s defense was thoroughly mediocre last year and Garza was a part of that problem. Similarly, improved passing would help as well.

-Player Projection

Garza is going to be a great player for Iowa this season. We’ve seen too much from him in the past to think anything else. The real question is whether he and the Hawkeyes can elevate their games enough to propel Iowa to its lofty goals for March and beyond. It’s a question we won’t know the answer to for months. But for now, expect Garza to contend for another Big Ten Player of the Year award and All-American honors. He has a chance to go down as one of the greatest Big Ten players in history if he can get that done.

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'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings: