LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — After earning the ASUN Regular Season title for the third straight season, Liberty was well-recognized on the ASUN All-Conference Postseason awards, as Darius McGhee was named the ASUN Player of the Year, Elijah Cuffee was named the ASUN Defensive Player of the Year and Head Coach Ritchie McKay was named ASUN Coach of the Year. In addition, Blake Preston was named to the ASUN All-Academic Team while McGhee was a unanimous ASUN First Team All-Conference selection and Cuffee was an ASUN Second Team All-Conference honoree.
For the first time in program history, Liberty’s coach has won Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons as McKay has led the Flames to its third straight ASUN Regular Season Championship. Under McKay, Liberty has extending its school-record, capturing its fifth consecutive 20-win season as the Flames picked up wins this season over two SEC opponents and 11 wins in the ASUN Conference. For the second straight season, McKay and the Flames went undefeated at home, with a perfect 13-0 record. McKay is the second coach in Liberty’s Division I era to earn a Coach of the Year honor (Dale Layer in 2011).
For the second straight season, Liberty had a player earn the ASUN player of the Year honor, as Caleb Homesley won the award last season. This is the fifth time in the ASUN’s history that a program has had back-to-back ASUN Player of the Year honorees and first since 2016-17 (North Florida). McGhee was sensational this season averaging 15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Lethal at all three levels, McGhee shot 46.4 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from three-point range and 83.3 percent from the free throw line. During conference play the junior picked up his game averaging 16.9 points per game including 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from three-point range and 87 percent from the free throw line. The junior from Roxboro, N.C. ended the regular season with four straight games scoring 20 points or more, becoming the first Liberty player since 2009 to do so. In the final game of the regular season, McGhee scored a career-high 34 points including tying the school record with eight made three-pointers in a game. McGhee became just the third player in Liberty’s Division I era to earn Player of the Year honors, joining Homesley and Jesse Sanders, who was named Big South Player of the Year in 2011.
Cuffee came into the year as the ASUN Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and did not disappoint as he spearheads a defense that ranks No. 3 in the country, allowing 58.9 points per game. During his senior campaign Cuffee recorded 12 steals and 11 blocks as the Flames held 12 opponents to under 60 points in a game this season. Cuffee is the first player in program history to receive a Defensive Player of the Year award. Not only a threat on defense, Cuffee was sensational on offense as well averaging 10 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Cuffee had his most efficient year on offense as he averaged 48.8 percent from the field, 43 percent from three-point range and 86.7 percent from the free throw line.
Preston is a Finance major with a 3.60 grade point average (GPA). Not only has Preston been successful off the court but on the court as well as the redshirt-sophomore is averaging 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Preston ranks No. 17 in the country in field goal percentage, shooting 64.6 percent from the field.