Posted May 28, 2014 5:57 PM
Doug McDermott had already played his way into the first round of the 2013 draft and a guaranteed contract, would have started the clock on the real money that comes after the rookie scale, would have the safety net of at least one rich deal in hand if he got hurt, and could have avoided the tougher competition and risk of being exposed as the Bluejays stepped up in from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East. He was surrounded by sensible reasons to leave Creighton a year ago, after his junior season.
There was one reason to stay.
McDermott is able to stand on the doorstep of the 2014 draft with the satisfaction of knowing he got one last chance to be a college kid while also staying on course for the first round. He hung out, and he took off. He didn't get hurt, and neither did his draft stock.
McDermott got it all. He beat the system.
"I haven't beat the system yet," he countered. "But it's really cool. I feel like I did everything the right way throughout my four years and feel like this is kind of a bonus for me just because all of the hard work I put in, being around great people and working hard every day. This is definitely a great moment."
McDermott doesn't miss often -- 52.6 percent overall and 44.9 percent on threes -- but that's a miss. Of course he beat the system.
He stayed in school because he wanted to experience life as a senior, walked into a 2013-14 of tougher competition, slow-played his NBA decision right into a much deeper draft that could have meant a hit to his stock ... and soared up the boards. About a month before the June 26 selections, McDermott, projected for the second half of the first round if he had come out a year ago, now could go as high as No. 8 to the Kings or No. 9 to the Hornets, teams that need to improve their perimeter scoring.
"I thought McDermott would get drafted mid-first round to late-first round (in 2013), get drafted to a good team and be a very good player because he knows how to play. He can make shots," one executive said. "If he's in the right place, he's going to be successful. But if he ends up getting drafted in the top 10 and he goes to a bad team, it's not going to look good ... You put him on the Milwaukee Bucks, the Milwaukee Bucks still (stink). You put him on the Spurs and it's like, man, the Spurs found another gem."
Dougie McBuckets can be a difference maker and have a long career, in other words, just not as a No. 1 threat who will carry a team. Just getting to that level, though.
He considered leaving Creighton after last season, but wanted a senior year, and not just a basketball senior year. He wanted a final shot at a college life. McDermott discussed it with his family, including his father/college coach. He talked it over with the biggest of recent Creighton products, Kyle Korver, who didn't push one way or another but did tell McDermott there is nothing like a senior's life. That really stuck with McDermott.
When he did return, though, it was with the Bluejays moving up in weight class, to the Big East. Better players, bigger players and, in the area that could have most impacted McDermott, more athletic players. And, indeed, concerns about whether he could defend small forwards in the NBA did become a constant in the analysis by scouts and executives watching Creighton. But the potential hit from leaving the Missouri Valley didn't happen.
The new challenge of playing in the Big East was actually one of the reasons he stayed in school, not something he wanted to duck. That mindset is part of the analysis, too. So is averaging 26.7 points over 35 games, the shooting touch from several spots on the court, the 30 points in the first round of the NCAA tournament while making 13 of 23 tries, before getting just 14 shots (and making seven) and scoring 15 points in the second-round defeat to talented Baylor.
"I feel like a lot of people could look up to me now and what I did as a four-year player," McDermott said. "Each year I look at as an opportunity to get better. I never got satisfied, I never got comfortable with myself. I just continued to push myself and it got me to where I am now."
In the lottery of the 2014 draft, possibly in the top 10, with the valuable basketball experience of a run in the Big East and the life experience of a senior year on campus. In the role of the guy who beat the system.
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