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Luka Garza Wins 2021 AP Player of Year Award over Ayo Dosunmu, Cade Cunningham

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 1, 2021

Iowa's Luka Garza shoots a free throw during the second half of a first round NCAA college basketball tournament game against Grand Canyon Saturday, March 20, 2021, at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. Iowa won 86-74. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Iowa center Luka Garza has been named the Associated Press men's college basketball player of the year after garnering 50 of a possible 63 first-place votes.

Garza averaged 24.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Hawkeyes, who earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The senior also shot 55.3 percent from the field and 44.0 percent from three-point range.

He also scored 30 or more points eight times, including 41 against Southern University. Per the Iowa men's hoops website, Garza was also No. 1 in player efficiency rating (35.84) and total points (711).

Four others received first-place votes: Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (six), Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham (three), Baylor guard Jared Butler (two) and Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert (two).

Garza spoke about the honor and noted how meditation helped his mental health and focus during the season, which was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:

AP Top 25 @AP_Top25

BREAKING: Luka Garza (@LukaG_55) of @IowaHoops is The Associated Press men's college basketball player of the year.<br><br>Story, video by @aaronbeardap &gt;&gt; https://t.co/dLeFs3D5JB pic.twitter.com/J5xgxWVcVh

"You had to be in your house quarantined, going to the gym, going home. There's no distraction. If you play a bad game, that's all you're thinking about. So you need to be in a healthy mental space or you would just let it eat at youโ€”especially a person like me who thinks as much as I do.

"I needed it to be a daily thing because I faced this anxiety every single day. It definitely became something that helped me out a lot and contributed to my being able to be there and be in the moment every single game and every single day."

Garza is also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, both given to the most outstanding women's and men's college basketball players.