NCAA Basketball: Top 25 Player of the Year candidates in 2021-22 season

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NCAA Basketball Utah State Aggies forward Justin Bean Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

24. Darius McGhee – Liberty Flames

2021-22 season stats: 21.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.1 apg

The senior guard averaged 15.5 ppg last season to win Atlantic Sun Player of the Year but McGhee has been his numbers explode so far through 17 games. The 5’9 playmaker averaged 31.3 ppg in the 2021 Diamond Head Classic Tournament, including a career-high 41 points in a loss to Stanford, as well as 29 points against a defensively-strong BYU unit.

Despite the Flames playing as one of the slower-paced teams in NCAA Basketball, McGhee has shown to be one of the best pure scorers in the sport. Liberty is 2-0 in ASUN play and remains the heavy favorite to win the regular-season and tournament titles in March.

23. Justin Bean – Utah State Aggies

2021-22 season stats: 19.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.5 apg

With Neemias Queta gone, the senior forward has welcomed being the go-to offensive option for the rebuilding Aggies. Bean has taken advantage of getting the ball as much as possible, going for back-to-back 30-point and 14-rebound performances against Penn and Richmond early in the season.

The numbers haven’t dipped much since, with Bean scoring at least 14 points in all but one game and producing 10 double-doubles in 15 games. Utah State’s recent loss to Air Force really hurt their at-large prospects but having Bean gives them a chance to beat San Diego State and Colorado State either in the regular-season or Mountain West Tournament.

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