Our third March Impact Player Profile belongs to Luka Garza, the junior center for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Garza has been a three-year contributor for the Hawkeyes, and he very nearly led Iowa to a Sweet 16 berth last year. Both Garza and his squad have looked much stronger this year, and they appear to be loading for a big surge in March. Garza has averaged 23 points per game and 10.4 rebounds, while shooting at an astonishing 54.6% clip from the field. While the shooting percentage is around the same as it has been his first two seasons, Garza’s points and rebounds per game have almost doubled since last year.
Garza made a statement in the Big 10 opener. Having played solidly to open the year, Garza torched Michigan for 44 points on 77% shooting. Although Iowa lost 103-91, their star had officially arrived on the scene, and he has barely slowed down. Recording a dozen double-doubles, Garza has also scored at least 21 points in eight straight contests, and 11 of 13 since the 44-point game. Iowa is 10-3 in that stretch with four victories over ranked opponents.
The biggest knock on Garza was his one-dimensional game, as he rarely shot the ball from distance. #19 Illinois tried to limit Garza in the paint, and the 6’11, 260-pound center responded by knocking down four three-pointers, a career-high. Overall he is now shooting 38% for triples on the year, forcing opponents to respect his ability to drill a shot or two, opening up more room for him inside.
Garza takes 16 shots a game and, if he keeps up his scoring average, he could be a one-man wrecking ball for the Hawkeyes come March. Watch out for this man, as after nearly single-handedly lifting the Hawkeyes to the Sweet 16 last year, he is looking better, and ready to do it again.