Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Iowa to retire jersey of all-time leading scorer Luka Garza, who gives glory to God

Head coach Fran McCaffery and the University of Iowa basketball program had a surprise in store for star big man Luka Garza, the program’s all-time leading scorer, after the Hawkeyes’ 77-73 win over Wisconsin on Senior Night. During the postgame celebration Sunday, Garza learned his No. 55 would be retired at the end of the season.

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“I just want to thank Coach McCaffery for giving me a chance to come here to the University of Iowa,” Garza said when it was his turn to speak. “You changed my life and I will forever be grateful for you and your family.”

The Washington, D.C., native finished with 21 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in the victory, marking the 18th time in 27 games he’s scored more than 20 points. Garza leads all high-major conference players in scoring at 23.8 points per game, which is good for third in the nation.

The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year followed up a remarkable junior season with what might be an even better one as a senior, improving his field goal percentage (55.0), 3-point shooting (43.0) and free-throw percentage (70.6) while averaging a nearly identical number of points (23.8 vs. 23.9 last year). His team (20-7) got better as well, ending the regular season at No. 5 in the AP poll.

As Garza leads the Hawkeyes, he strives to glorify God. His Twitter bio includes the phrase “ALL GLORY TO GOD” and features a cross next to his name. When Garza thanked schools who offered him scholarships during the recruiting process, he often included #ALLGLORYTOGOD in the tweet.

In his tweet announcing his commitment to Iowa, Garza again gave thanks to God, his family and the coaches who’d helped him along the way.

“First of all, I want to thank all the schools that have been involved with me throughout this entire process,” Garza wrote. “It’s a blessing to see hard work pay off but I know it is just the beginning. I want to thank God, [high school coach] Chuck Driesell and The Maret School, [Team Takeover president] Keith Stevens and the Team Takeover family, my mom, sister, and the rest of my family for their continued support and effort to improve me as a player and as a person.”

With the 2020-21 regular season now complete, Garza will turn his attention to this week’s Big Ten Tournament and the numerous awards he is in the running for. He was named a finalist for the Wooden Award on Saturday, an honor for which he was the runner-up in 2019-20. Garza is also one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Award and likely to repeat as the Big Ten Player of the Year.

If Garza takes home at least one of the six widely-recognized national player of the year awards as he is expected to do, he would be the first player to win a player of the year award in back-to-back seasons since Duke’s Jay Williams did so in 2000-01 and 2001-02.

The Hawkeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 3 seed and earned a double-bye to guarantee a spot in the quarterfinals. They will face either Wisconsin, Penn State or Nebraska at approximately 9 p.m. ET on Friday.

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