Luka Garza is proving his case to be the consensus National Player of the Year every time he steps on to the floor. After narrowly losing the honor to Obi Toppin last season, Garza is playing with ferocity this season. He is averaging 27.6 points and 8.6 rebounds through the first 13 games of the season.
In the Iowa Hawkeyes‘ last performance against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Garza absolutely dominated. He dropped 33 points on over 60% efficiency, marking his sixth game this season with a 30+ point game. While Garza is doing this, no other Division One player is even close to him.
NCAA basketball usually doesn’t see standout individual scorers put up numbers like this every season while also being on a contending team. However, this Hawkeyes team is special and Garza is so much better than his contemporaries that it doesn’t seem fair. The senior will not be dominating NCAA basketball next season, as he will graduate. That makes this season that much more meaningful to Garza.
The Hawkeyes are one of the best teams in the nation this season. However, they aren’t the best team. That is comfortably the Gonzaga Bulldogs, a team that Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes have already lost to this season. The Baylor Bears and the Villanova Wildcats are dangerous as well and arguably better than Iowa.
However, Garza is an X-Factor like no other. He can drop 30 points almost effortlessly on any given night. While teams will be more aggressive with him in the NCAA tournament, he too will try to impose his will more.
His scoring pace does mean this season will be remembered as one of the best individual seasons in recent history. However, basketball is a team sport. Garza forged being drafted this year to return to Iowa, so a championship is the ultimate goal for him and his team. With his high-level of play, it may be a realistic goal as well.