IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa men’s basketball All-American Luka Garza highlights the 2021 Kareem Abdul Jabbar Award Preseason Watch List.
The Hawkeye senior was the recipient of the award in 2020 and is seeking to become the first player to win in back-to-back seasons since the award was introduced in 2015.
Named after three-time NCAA Champion, three-time NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and three-time National Player of the Year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the annual honor in its sixth year recognizes the top center in Division I men’s college basketball.
Garza (6-foot-11, 265 pounds) was a dominant force in 2019-20, earning National Player of the Year (six national media outlets) and Big Ten Player of the Year distinction, along with earning consensus first-team All-America laurels. Garza (740 points and 305 rebounds) was one of three Big Ten players to ever to total 740+ points and 300+ rebounds in a single season. He ranked second nationally with 12 20-point/10-rebound performances, 20-point games (25); third in total field goals made (287), fifth in scoring (23.9), 10th in 30-point games (5), 19th in double-doubles (15) and offensive rebounds per game (3.58), and 34th in rebounding (9.8). His 15 double-doubles are third most in a single-season by a Hawkeye in three decades and the most since 2002. Garza averaged 26.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 12 games against AP ranked opponents in 2019-20, including recording 11 straight 20-point performances, the longest streak by any player since UConn’s Kemba Walker in 2011.
The native of Washington, D.C., finished the 20-game conference schedule averaging 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 (31.1 ppg). Garza scored a school-record 740 points in 2019-20, breaking the program’s 50-year old record previously set by John Johnson in 1970. 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.
Three of the six previous winners of this prestigious award has come from a Big Ten school: Iowa’s Luka Garza (2020), and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ (2019) and Frank Kaminsky (2016).
The list will be narrowed down to 10 in mid-February and then five finalists will be selected in March that will be presented to Kareem Abdul Jabbar and the selection committee. The winner of this award will be presented on Friday, April 9, 2021.