Garza wins Wooden to sweep top-player honors

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  • Joined ESPN.com in 2011
  • Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato

One year after finishing second in a tight race, Iowa star Luka Garza added another award to his trophy case Tuesday by winning the John R. Wooden Award as the top player in men’s college basketball.

Garza, a 6-foot-11 senior standout, secured the award and completed the sweep of the major national player of the year awards in 2020-21 after finishing behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin in last year’s Wooden Award race. It’s the fourth national player of the year award for Garza, who previously captured the Oscar Robertson Trophy (United States Basketball Writers Association), the Naismith Trophy and Associated Press Player of the Year honors.

Garza, a projected second-round pick in ESPN’s latest NBA mock draft, averaged 24.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 2020-21. The Washington, D.C., native won the Wooden over fellow finalists Jared Butler (Baylor), Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois) and Corey Kispert (Gonzaga). He was consistently dominant, scoring 20 points or more in 22 games this season.

After a strong junior campaign, Garza entered the NBA draft process before eventually withdrawing his name due to uncertainty about his status, as workouts were interrupted by the pandemic. Garza also expressed a desire to pursue a national championship with an Iowa program that entered the season as a top-10 program.

Iowa lost to Oregon in the second round of the NCAA tournament last month.

Garza improved in a variety of key categories this season. He made 44% of his 3-point attempts a year after connecting on 36%. His free throw percentage jumped from 65% to 71%. The Hawkeyes made 39% of their 3-point attempts this season with Garza on the floor, according to hooplens.com.

Iowa recently announced that it will retire Garza’s No. 55.

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