By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – In the hour it took to run a few errands Tuesday morning, Luka Garza became the first Hawkeye in program history to be voted a two-time Associated Press first-team All-American, and he also received all-district honors for the second year in a row.
Put your phone down just for a few minutes in Garza’s world and you risk falling behind the news cycle.
Iowa’s senior center is to winning postseason awards what Beyonce’ is to winning Grammys.
Garza’s list of individual awards from this season, and from last season, is staggering, and unlike anything that has ever happened to an Iowa men’s basketball player.
Iowa’s senior center has made the incredible seem ordinary.
Before Garza, there weren’t many Iowa players that earned All-America recognition of any kind.
It only happened 10 times from 1970 until Garza made first-team All-American last season, and three of those players earned honorable mention.
As great as John Johnson and Fred Brown were as Hawkeyes, they didn’t make higher than third-team All-America by the Associated Press, while legendary point guard Ronnie Lester made no higher than second-team by the AP.
What Garza is doing is not only is unprecedented, it might never happen again.
The odds of a star player sticking around for four college seasons in this get-rich-quick age are miniscule.
So many different things had to fall in place for Garza to be in this unique position, and it’s just incredible that it’s worked out this way.
For one, he had to stay at Iowa from start to finish, and two, he had to stay healthy.
Garza did have a nine-pound benign cyst removed from his abdomen prior to his sophomore season, and he missed three games as a sophomore due to a sprained ankle.
But for the most part, the 6-foot-11 Garza has been durable and productive, and will pose a major problem for Grand Canyon in Saturday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game.
Garza’s next loss will be his last as a Hawkeye, and at the most, he only has six games left should Iowa make it all the way to the NCAA title game.
That might seem like a long shot, but stranger things have happened, and look no further than Garza’s rise to stardom for proof.
It would’ve been hard two years ago to even imagine a Hawkeye being named first-team All-American by any national news outlet, let alone by the Associated Press. But now Garza has achieved that milestone two years in a row, and he was the only player on this year’s AP five-player team to be a unanimous selection.
Garza is also in position to be the consensus National Player of the Year this season, with the Sporting News already having bestowed him with that honor.
It just seems to never end, one award after another.
But sadly, it will end soon, and we’ll probably never see anything like Luka Garza again, at least from an awards standpoint.
2021 LUKA GARZA HONORS
• Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year
• Sporting News National Player of the Year
• USBWA District VI Player of the Year
• First Team All-America (Associated Press, Sporting News)
• Wooden Award National Ballot
• Senior CLASS Award Finalist
• Naismith Trophy Semifinalist
• Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Trophy Finalist
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Finalist
• Lute Olson Award Midseason Top 30