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2021 Naismith Player of the Year Announced

2021 Men’s Naismith Player of the Year: Luka Garza

After another dominant season, Iowa senior Luka Garza was named the 2021 men’s Naismith Player of the Year.

The men’s Naismith College Player of the Year award is given out annually to the best player in college basketball. It’s been given out since 1969, when UCLA’s Lew Alcindor earned the honors. 

Garza beat out fellow Cade Cunningham, Ayo Dosunmu and Corey Kispert.

Garza finished second nationally in scoring, averaging 24.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-11 center went from 36 percent from three-point range to 44 percent this season. He led the Hawkeyes to a 22-9 season and helped earn a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Garza also won Big Ten Player of the Year honors and became Iowa’s all-time leading scorer this year.

“Winning an award in Naismith’s name is an honor my family and I will always treasure. Naismith changed my life, and so many others, by creating the game that so many love. In 2015, when my dad and I watched Frank Kaminsky accept the Naismith Trophy in Indianapolis, I never thought I would be in this position six years later,” Garza said. 

“I am forever thankful to the University of Iowa, Coach McCaffery, the rest of the coaching staff, my teammates, my family and the countless other people and coaches who have helped me along the way. This is not an individual honor but a team award, and I am so proud to be able to bring this award home to Iowa City. Thank you to the Atlanta Tipoff Club for this prestigious award and thank you to Naismith for changing my life and so many others with the game of basketball.”

 

2021 Women’s Naismith Player of the Year: Paige Bueckers

After becoming one of the biggest names incollege basketball, Uconn freshman Paige Bueckers was named the 2021 Naismith Women’s Player of the Year.

Bueckers becomes the first freshman to ever win the Naismith Trophy in the 39-year history of the award. She’s just the fourth first-year player ever, following men’s winners Kevin Durant (2007), Anthony Davis (2012) and Zion Williamson (2019).

Paige beat out fellow finalists Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard, Louisville’s Dana Evans and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston.

Bueckers completed her 2021 season with 20.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game. She also shot an incredible 45.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Bueckers also set multiple school records this season. She holds the record for the most assists in a single game(14) and the most assists by a freshman(168).

She helped UConn to a 24-1 season and become the Big East regular-season champions. The Huskies earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA women’s tournament before a tough loss to Arizona in the Final Four. 

Bueckers was also awarded the 2021 AP National Player of the Year and the Wooden Award All-American.

“I feel incredibly blessed to receive the Naismith Trophy. It was an honor to receive the high school award last season, and truly, it’s surreal to receive the collegiate award this year,” Bueckers said. 

“My teammates and coaches are the reason I had any individual success this year, so thank you to them for being by my side all season. There are so many talented players who are deserving of this award, like Aliyah, Dana and Rhyne, so it’s humbling to receive it.” 

 

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