The WAC Player of the Year race is heating up. There are perhaps five candidates in the mix right now. And two of them go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon at the UCCU Center in Orem.
Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq is the reigning WAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. In 2020-21, Aimaq averaged 13.9 points and 15.0 rebounds to help lead the Wolverines to a share of the WAC regular season title. ‘Big Maple’ as he is referred to in Orem is the first player in 40 years to average 15-plus rebounds per game.
And in 2021-22, Aimaq had continued to put up monster numbers. Aimaq is averaging 18.9 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. Against BYU on December 1, 2021, Aimaq had 24 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Wolverines over the No. 12 Cougars. Aimaq is shooting 48 percent from the field and has also hit 12 3-pointers. Along with his field goal percentage, Aimaq is shooting 70 percent from the free throw line. All this while face double and triple teams night in and night out. Aimaq is 7th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage according to KenPom. And the 6-10 center also leads the nation with 20 double-doubles.
Perhaps the argument against Aimaq is the fact the Wolverines have struggled in WAC play. Utah Valley is 15-8 overall but just 6-5 in WAC play. Remember, something that needs to be considered is how does a candidate affect winning? Without Aimaq, Utah Valley doesn’t have 15 wins on the season. If the Wolverines can knock off New Mexico State on Saturday afternoon, it would go a long way in Aimaq’s campaign to repeat as Player of the Year.
— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) February 11, 2022
Allen Looks to Stay Hot
When New Mexico State announced Teddy Allen was joining the program, the Aggies became the unanimous favorite to win the WAC. Allen was a double digit scorer at Nebraska in 2020-21 and earned the nickname ‘Teddy Buckets’. But what people didn’t realize is Allen’s ability to become a complete basketball player. Yes, Teddy Allen leads the Aggies in scoring at 19.4 points per game. But Allen also leads New Mexico State in rebounding at 7.0 boards per game. Allen also leads the Aggies with 25 steals on the season. He has become the complete player and bought into what Chris Jans wanted him to become when they recruited Allen to Las Cruces.
Allen is currently shooting 46 percent from the floor and 34 percent from 3-point land. And in WAC play, Allen leads the league in scoring at 21.7 points per game. Allen has scored 20-plus points in five straight wins for the Aggies coming into Saturday afternoon.
New Mexico State is 20-3 overall and sits atop the WAC standings at 10-1 in WAC play. Allen is a big part of that.
1H | 5:13 | ⬆️ 31-24
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) February 11, 2022
A win for either Utah Valley or New Mexico State on Saturday could go a long way in determining Player of the Year honors. Two of the WAC’s best players go head-to-head on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. MT. The reigning WAC Player of the Year vs. arguably the Newcomer of the Year who hopes to also be named Player of the Year. Should be a fun one in Orem.