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Luka Garza Named Blue Ribbon Preseason Player of the Year

The Iowa big man is already starting to receive some accolades.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook rising senior center named the Iowa Hawkeyes rising senior center Luka Garza their 2020-2021 preseason player of the year.

The 6-foot-11, 260 pound center earned a number of honors last year, including Big Ten Player of the Year, first-team all-conference selection, consensus first-team All-America accolades, the National Association of Basketball Coaches Pete Newell Big Man of the Year award, and the Naismith Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year. Garza announced August 2nd, to the surprise of many, that he would be returning to Iowa for his senior season.

Garza averaged 23.9 points last season, fifth best in the country, along with 9.8 rebounds per game on 54.2-percent shooting. His field goal percentage was third best in the conference behind Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu and Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman, both of whom departed for the NBA. Garza’s 3.6 boards per game on offense was second best in the conference behind Oturu. His scoring average of 23.9 points per game was best in the conference, but of returning players the next best was Illinois’s Ayo Dosunmu whose 16.6 points was good for fifth best in the conference.

Overall, Garza finished the season with 740 points and 305 rebounds last season. He became just one of three Big Ten players to ever to total 740 or more points and 300 or more rebounds in a single-season. He joined Purdue’s Glenn Robinson, who accomplished that feat in 1994, and Purdue’s Joe Barry Carroll, who did so in 1979. Garza also ranked second nationally with his 12 games scoring 20-points and grabbing 10-rebounds, and his 25 games with at least 20-points.

Garza was third nationally in total field goals made (287) and in points per 40 minutes played (29.8). He was fifth in scoring (23.9), 10th in 30-point games (5), 19th in double-doubles (15), and 19th in offensive rebounds per game (3.58).

Garza’s 15 double-doubles are third most in a single-season by a Hawkeye in three decades and the most since Reggie Evans had 18 in 2002. Garza averaged 26.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 12 games against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll, including 11 consecutive 20-point performances.

For comparison of past honorees to receive preseason player of the year honors, last season’s was Eastern Tennessee State University’s Jeromy Rodriguez, and in 2018 it was North Carolina’s Luke May.