Iowa senior Luka Garza was named the winner of the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy, the most prestigious individual basketball honor presented annually to college basketball’s most outstanding player, today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Garza, a Naismith Trophy finalist in 2020, becomes the first Hawkeye to win the Naismith Trophy and the 53rd winner in the storied history of the award, and the first senior to claim the honor since Kansas’ Frank Mason III in 2017.
The winner was announced live earlier today on CBS Sports Network by Barry Goheen, Atlanta Tipoff Club chairman.
Garza will be honored on campus this spring and presented with the iconic Naismith Trophy, originally sculpted in 1982 by Atlanta’s Marty C. Dawe. The trophy is produced and provided by Herff Jones, leading provider of graduation and educational products and services designed to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for students. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff Jones to the winner’s university.
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“Luka just concluded a remarkable college career and had tremendous expectations to live up to all season long, said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
“Winning an award in Naismith’s name is an honor my family and I will always treasure. Naismith changed my life, and so many others, by creating the game that so many love. In 2015, when my dad and I watched Frank Kaminsky accept the Naismith Trophy in Indianapolis, I never thought I would be in this position six years later,” said Garza. “I am forever thankful to the University of Iowa, Coach McCaffery, the rest of the coaching staff, my teammates, my family and the countless other people and coaches who have helped me along the way. This is not an individual honor but a team award, and I am so proud to be able to bring this award home to Iowa City. Thank you to the Atlanta Tipoff Club for this prestigious award and thank you to Naismith for changing my life and so many others with the game of basketball.”
Garza led all NCAA Division I players this season in total points scored (747 points) and ranked second nationally in points per game with 24.1. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, making him only the second player ever to accomplish that feat (Jim Jackson, Ohio State, 1991-92). He was a unanimous Big Ten First-Team All-Conference selection, and his jersey, No. 55, was retired on Iowa’s Senior Day. The senior forward became the Hawkeyes’ all-time leading scorer and the only men’s player in Big Ten history to have a resume that includes over 2,250 points, 900 rebounds, 150 blocked shots and 100 3-pointers.
Garza and women’s Player of the Year winner Paige Bueckers were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading media members from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2020-21 college basketball season. Additionally, fans had the opportunity to cast a ballot through naismithfanvote.com and on the @NaismithTrophy and NCAA @MarchMadness Twitter pages. The Naismith fan vote accounted for 5% of the overall vote. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta.
For more information about the Naismith Awards, visit www.naismithtrophy.com.