Justin Bean

Utah State forward Justin Bean goes up to dunk the ball against Montana Western on Oct. 27, 2021.

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Will an Aggie have his named called for the third straight year in the NBA Draft?

Most mock drafts would make that possibility highly unlikely. The 2002 draft will begin Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The draft is two rounds with a total of 60 picks from the 30 NBA teams.

The best hope of a Utah State player following Sam Merrill (2020) and Neemias Queta (2021) is Justin Bean. The forward has created some buzz since the college basketball season wrapped up more than two months ago. However, the Aggie great is being cautious about the draft.

“My road to success has never been easy, never been clear cut,” Bean said in an interview with The Herald Journal. “I expect this to be no different. Who knows, I might see my name called in the late second round and I might not, and then sign with a team and play summer league and try and earn a two-way (contract). Right now, a two-way is definitely a reality. We have talked with a lot of teams about that, so that is on the table.”

Bean and fellow Aggie forward Brandon Horvath have been working out for teams and both played in the Portsmouth Showcase Tournament in Virginia, which invites 64 athletes to play. Bean, who was a walk-on at USU and earned a scholarship, made the all-tournament team at Portsmouth.

“That actually jump started all of the NBA workouts I got,” Bean said. “I was able to interview with a lot of teams after I played there. A lot of teams talked to my agency and wanted to get me in for workouts. It was a huge boost for sure.”

Bean and Horvath were 1-2 for the Aggies in scoring and rebounding last season. They were also near the top in assists.

“They both worked out for NBA teams,” USU head coach Ryan Odom said. “Bean has done really well. The feedback has been great. You just never know how it’s going to go on draft night. There are not a lot of players (drafted). Second-round players that can help a team are really valuable. ... Bean is hopeful that he is going to get drafted, but if he doesn’t he’s not going to worry about. He will figure out what the next step is. He is determined to make it. He certainly has good prospects overseas if that’s what happens. There are NBA players overseas every year.”

Both Aggies have been jet setting to NBA cities for workouts and interviews.

“Let’s just say I’ve been wracking up the Skymiles,” Bean said. “Honestly, I thought I did a lot of traveling in college, but I feel in two months I’ve covered a whole season. It’s been a lot of back and forth.”

Bean had his final workout on Monday with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then hoped a flight back to Utah. He has been staying with his wife’s family in Santaquin. The 6-foot-7 native of Moore, Oklahoma, has worked out for 14 NBA teams.

“I’ve been all over the map,” Bean said. “... When I’m not flying, I’ve been getting in the gym and working.”

One team he did not visit and workout for was the Utah Jazz.

“We have communicated with the Jazz,” Bean said. “The truth is, they feel they know enough about me and my game and didn’t feel like they wanted to bring me in. They told me they knew there were a lot of other teams that hadn’t seen me. It honestly would have been tough to fit them in the schedule. We mutually agreed they had enough info on me.”

He signed with Priority Sports out of Chicago after his collegiate days were over. When USU’s season came to on end March 15, Bean went to Chicago for a month to train. He also spent two weeks in Oklahoma.

“It was pretty surreal working out for Oklahoma City,” Bean said. “It was cool to see the facilities and behind the scenes. My family had season tickets for years when I was growing up. To be on the other side of that environment was pretty awesome. I won some gear because I knew some OKC trivia.”

At Oklahoma City, Bean worked out with Colorado State forward David Roddy. He crossed paths with Wyoming’s Hunter Maldonado and UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton in Chicago.

The pace of play has taken some getting used to. Bean pointed out he isn’t even going against NBA players, but has sensed the talent level.

“It is the best of the best,” Bean said. “There have been a lot of competitive games and playing. Everyone wants the same thing. I was a little surprised how competitive it has been, but I was up for the challenge. I have really enjoyed showcasing my ability to teams.”

As busy as Bean has been, he did make it back to Logan on June 3. He made his last appearance at Taco Time.

“That was the last part of my contract with Taco Time,” Bean said. “It was fun. I also went to the Ryan Odom basketball camps and caught up with some coaches and players. It was great being back. It was definitely different driving into Logan and knowing it wasn’t home anymore. It was kind of sad.”

Bean and his wife Claire will fly to Oklahoma before the draft to be with his family. His high school coach is also joining the gathering.

“It will be a party at the Bean house,” Bean said. “We are going to have some pizza, kick back and relax and watch the draft.”

Odom has high hopes for Bean.

“We’re all hopeful that Justin gets the opportunity to play in the NBA,” Odom said. “As I look at it, I feel like Justin walked on here and then made himself into an amazing player. He is going to do the same in the NBA in essence, not termed a walk-on. He will work his way into that level. He certainly can do it. We believe in him, as do a lot of fans.”

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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