IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa standout Luka Garza is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy, which is presented annually to the most outstanding player who achieves tremendous on-court success, it was announced Thursday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Garza (6-foot-11, 260 pounds) ranks first nationally with 12 20-point/10-rebound performances and field goals made (275), second in 20-point games (24), third in points per 40 minutes played (29.9), fifth in scoring (23.7), ninth in 30-point games (5), 17th in double-doubles (15) and offensive rebounds per game (3.7), and 33rd in rebounding (9.9). His 15 double-doubles are third most in a single-season by a Hawkeye in three decades and the most since 2002 (Reggie Evans, 18). Garza is one of two players in the country, and only player from a major conference, to average better than 23 points and nine rebounds per game.
Garza, who has led the Big Ten in scoring since November, surpassed 700 points on March 3 to break the Iowa’s 50-year old single-season scoring record. He has scored 20 points or more in a school-record 15 straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by any player in the Big Ten since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson (15 in 1994).
Garza has scored 25 points or more 12 times this season, including the last two contests (Penn State and Purdue). He has controlled 12 or more rebounds 10 times this season, a total that ties for 14th best in the NCAA. The native of Washington, D.C., is the only Big Ten player to register seven 25-point/10-rebound performances in the same season in more than 17 years.
Garza, who is seeking to become Iowa’s first Big Ten MVP since Sam Williams in 1968, has been a force with his back to the basket in the post and facing defenders on the perimeter. He has produced the two highest point totals in a game by a Big Ten player this season (44 at Michigan; 38 at Indiana). Garza is one of two centers in the nation shooting 35 percent or better from 3-point range (min. 100 attempts).
Finalists for the trophy will be revealed on March 17, while the winner will be announced April 5, at the Naismith Awards Brunch in Atlanta.
No. 18 Iowa (20-10, 11-8) will play its regular season finale at No. 23 Illinois (20-9, 12-6) on Sunday in Champaign, Illinois.