Iowa's Luka Garza Wins 2021 Wooden Award over Cade Cunningham, Ayo Dosunmu

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Iowa center Luka Garza walks off the court after an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin, Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa. Garza, a senior, was playing his last home game at Iowa. Iowa won 77-73. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Iowa Hawkeyes big man Luka Garza was announced Tuesday as the winner of the 2021 John R. Wooden Award as the men's college basketball Player of the Year.

The news was announced on Tuesday's episode of SportsCenter.

The 2020-21 college basketball season came to a close Monday night with Baylor routing previously undefeated Gonzaga, 86-70, in the men's national championship game. The Bears overcame a three-week COVID-19 pause in February to capture the program's first title.

Now it's awards season with Garza joining UConn's Paige Bueckers as this year's Wooden Award recipients. The other finalists on the men's side were Baylor's Jared Butler, Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham, Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu and Gonzaga's Corey Kispert.

Garza, who previously earned Naismith Player of the Year honors, continued to compile accolades for his standout senior season. He was also a finalist for the Wooden Award last year.

The 6'11" center was a hallmark of efficiency, averaging 24.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting 55.3 percent from the field, including 44 percent from three-point range. He also racked up 13 double-doubles.

He continued to shine in the postseason, tallying 105 points in four games between the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament, but the Hawkeyes were eliminated in the conference semifinals and the second round of the Big Dance.

Past winners of the Wooden Award include Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson.

Along with on-court contributions, the award's qualifications state the candidates must also "exhibit strength of character" throughout the season.