Iowa All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza announced on Sunday that he is returning for his senior season.
“My heart is in Iowa City,” said Garza. “I love this place too much to leave it. I love my teammates, coaches, community, fans, and university. It would have been way too hard to close the book without the last chapter.”
Garza is one of five players since 1975, and first since 2008, to return to school after being recognized as the Sporting News National Player of the Year. The other four players are Tyler Hansbrough (2008), Dee Brown (2005), Michael Jordan (1983), and Ralph Sampson (1982).
The Washington, D.C., native had a historic season in 2019-2020, leading the nationally-ranked UI men’s basketball team to 20 victories and a likely NCAA Tournament berth if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. A unanimous consensus first-team All-America selection, Garza became the first UI men’s basketball student-athlete to earn National Player of the Year distinction (Sporting News, Basketball Times, ESPN, FOX, Stadium, Bleacher Report). The center was also named the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year, USBWA District VI Player of the Year, and Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.
“Luka’s decision is incredibly unselfish and heart-warming,” said head coach Fran McCaffery. “Luka has an opportunity to advance himself professionally, but instead, he is thinking more about the program and his teammates. His goals are team-oriented. He has an incredible bond with his brothers in the locker room and believes in this group.”
Garza finished the 20-game conference schedule averaging a staggering 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 and first true center since Minnesota’s Tom Kondla (28.3 ppg) in 1967. Garza scored a school-record 740 points in 2019-2020, breaking the program’s 50-year old record previously set by John Johnson in 1970. Garza became one of three Big Ten players to ever to total 740+ points and 300+ rebounds in a single season. 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.