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Luka Garza, Paige Bueckers Win Naismith Player of the Year Awards

Iowa center Luka Garza and UConn's Paige Bueckers were named the 2021 Naismith Player of the Years for men's and women's college basketball on Saturday.

Garza is the first Hawkeyes men's player to win the Naismith trophy. Former Iowa women's star Megan Gustafson, who now plays for the Dallas Wings, won the award in 2019. Iowa is one of six schools to have both a men's and women's player earn the Naismith trophy.

Bueckers, who became the first freshman ever to win the AP women’s basketball player of the year award on Wednesday, is now the first freshman to win the women's Naismith award.

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Garza ranked second nationally in points (24.1) and rebounds (8.7) per game this season. He also improved his shooting percentage from last season, going from 36% from three-point range to 44% this season.

The 6-foot-11, 265-pound senior led the Hawkeyes to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA men's tournament before losing to Oregon in the second round. Garza finished his college career as the Iowa's career scoring leader with 2,306 points. The university retired his No. 55 jersey. 

Garza adds to his senior year list of honors. On Thursday, Garza was named the Associated Press men's college player of the year.

Bueckers finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists in UConn's stunning loss to Arizona 69–59 in the NCAA women's Final Four Friday night. It was the Huskies' 13th consecutive Final Four appearance.

A native of Edina, Minn., Bueckers averaged 20 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game this season. She also became the first UConn player ever to score 30-plus points in three consecutive games and set the school record for points in her NCAA debut, when she had 24 against High Point.