Unless he decides to come back next season and utilize his COVID-year, the time has come that Liberty basketball fans everywhere have been dreading: Darius McGhee has played his last game as a Liberty Flame. While the tendency may be to wallow in the sorrows of losing an all-time Liberty great, we should take this time to look back on the historic showing that McGhee just displayed to us. It is good to think introspectively when it comes to the mastery of basketball we have seen and appreciate all that he gifted us as fans of Liberty Basketball.
24.6 Points per Game / 812 Total Points
McGhee put up crazy numbers for the Flames in his last year of eligibility. His season ranked second all-time in Liberty scoring in points per game, second only to Bailey Alston in 1989-90 when he averaged 25.5. Given that, Alston played 5 less games that season and Darius surpassed him in total points by 98, making McGhee the Liberty record holder of most points scored in a season with his 812. In comparison to other college players this year, he was second in PPG to Bryant’s Peter Kiss (25.2) and second in total points to Iowa’s Keegan Murray (822). McGhee was truly one of the best in terms of scoring the ball this year. He also was 1 of 2 players on those scoring lists in the top 10 under 6 foot, the other being Tavian Dunn-Martin of FGCU whom Liberty faced off twice against this year, going 1-1.
39% on 3-pointers on 11 attempts per game
Darius McGhee’s incredible outside shooting efficiency is evident from the numbers he put up this year. He lead the nation in 3-point field goals attempted (364) and makes (142). The season was the 8th most efficient of all time in terms of 3-point percentage of players who took 11 or more per game. The percentage ranks 6th in Liberty basketball history, number 5 being McGhee’s junior season and 1-4 having not attempted more than at most 6.4 shots per game. To put these numbers in perspective, arguably the “greatest shooter ever” Stephen Curry made a lower percentage of his threes shooting a lower volume of them in his last year at Davidson in 2008-09 with 38.7% at 9.9 shots per game. It is no small feat to say you had a more efficient outside shooting season than the 3-point king himself.
38% Usage Percentage
Darius McGhee’s offensive load expanded every year of his career, finally reaching a huge usage percentage of 38%. This usage led the nation by a relatively large number, beating out the second place player by 1.5 percentage points. This just shows how much of the offensive load was put onto the shoulders of McGhee and how he didn’t shrink back as his role got larger and larger. The percentage is also the 8th highest since the statistic began being used in 2009-10. We see here how much of a weight was carried by McGhee in Liberty’s offense and how much the team lived and died by his play. The success of the Flames offense is all the more impressive given how much of it depended on the scoring of McGhee, showing his incredible talent.
29.0 Player Efficiency Rating
Player efficiency rating is a statistic rating system developed by John Hollinger that aims to measure the overall efficiency of a player’s contributions and impact on the game. An average player efficiency rating is 15.0 and if, hypothetically, a player places above that mark, then they are a positive overall contributor. With McGhee’s mark of 29.0, he is one of two guards (the other being Colorado State’s David Roddy) to have a rating of 28.0 or higher while playing 30 minutes per game in at least 30 games. If we include all positions, he was one of 12 players in the nation to hit this mark, doing so with 3 less rebounds than anyone else in a measure that puts a relatively high value on rebounds. Even with the sheer volume of play McGhee had on offense, this number shows he was efficient in all the opportunity he was given. He was the motor of an offense that needed him to do a bit of everything.
Darius McGhee is a one of a kind player and will be remembered by Liberty fans for years to come. In a season that saw several highs and lows, he was a constant bright spot and was exhilarating to watch every time he put on those Liberty colors and took the court. When I went to see McGhee play, I felt like I saw something new and exciting every game as he worked his magic and defied gravity for an awestruck Liberty crowd. I’ll always remember those cheers as McGhee finished an unbelievable layup or drained a crazy shot from distance, and I know McGhee will inspire that same feeling in those that are lucky enough to watch him as he continues his basketball career.