Bohnenkamp: An Appreciation For Garza's Season

Iowa's Luka Garza finished the season as a consensus All-American. (Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

Luka Garza extinguished the Twitter anger before it could get burning.

It wasn't long after Dayton's Obi Toppin won the Wooden Award, given to the nation's top men's basketball player, that Garza, Iowa's junior center who had a brilliant season, tried to silence any social media fury.

It was a classy move by Garza, and certainly not surprising for those who have covered him in his career.

Garza is a fiery competitor, but he didn't want the Twitter war that has certainly flamed over the last few weeks to keep escalating.

And he was right in what he said. So let's appreciate what he has done this season.

The resumé:

Sporting News, Basketball Times, Stadium, Bleacher Report, FOX, and ESPN National Player of the Year

• Dick Vitale, Seth Davis, Andy Katz’s National Player of the Year

• Consensus First-Team All-America

• NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year

• Naismith Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year

• Big Ten Men's Basketball Player of the Year

• USBWA District VI Player of the Year

• Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy, and Lute Olson Award finalist

That's a good haul for one postseason, even if some of the trophies landed on someone else's shelf.

It's easy to argue for Garza to be named player of the year, but it's hard to argue why Toppin shouldn't have been. He, too, had a brilliant season for one of the best teams in the nation. 

But there's no sense in arguing now. Instead, let's appreciate what we saw out of Garza.

He had the best single-season scoring total in Iowa history — 740 points. His 44-point game against Michigan was the best in the Big Ten this season, his 38 points against Indiana was the second-highest total.

The most impressive part of his season, and it has been detailed quite often, was his streak of games in the Big Ten of 20 points or more. He ended his season with a 16-game run against some of the nation's best big men, and against some of the nation's best defenses.

He did it against players like Ohio State's Kaleb Wesson, Maryland's Jalen Smith, Minnesota's Daniel Oturu and Illinois' Kofi Cockburn. All have entered their names in the NBA Draft process. Only Cockburn has left the door open for a possible return.

Garza, of course, may test the draft process himself, and it's not a bad idea. Plenty of Iowa players have done it in the past and gotten significant feedback.

Then again, the process may look different this season as the NBA, like the rest of us, tries to get through a world brought to a halt by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

It would have been interesting to see what Garza would have done in the NCAA tournament. Maybe that would have made a difference in some of the voting.

Instead, all we see of Garza now are the daily workouts in a gym far from Iowa City. His future is ahead, with or without the plaques and trophies that went somewhere else.

He's moved forward with a foundation built on the past, and a season we should appreciate.

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