Stay or go? Tough call for McDermott

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The trouble isn’t grasping the
concept; it’s hanging on to a stinking consensus. You need Google maps
and a divining rod to get a read on where Doug McDermott lands in the
NBA Draft, assuming Creighton’s all-world junior decides to take the
plunge at all.
 
NBADraft.net projects
McDermott as the 20th pick overall, to Brooklyn. DraftExpress.com? No.
47, to Portland.
 
The HoopsReport.com likes
Dougie Fresh off the board at No. 23, to the Pacers. Hoopsworld.com? No.
48, to the Jazz.
 
One scout sees the next
Wally Szczerbiak. Another sees the next Adam
Morrison.
 
In one war room, gold. In the
next, kryptonite.
 
“All it takes is one team
to like him,” Aran Smith, longtime draftnik with NBADraft.net, said of
McDermott, whose Bluejays (24-7) are slated to face Drake in the first
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinal Friday at Scottrade
Center. “It’s a weaker draft (this year) than next year as well. I’m
sure he’d like to stick around and help his Dad another year. It’s a
double-edged sword.”
 
And so the underlying
question remains, one of several lurking in the Creighton camp during
Arch Madness 2013:
 
To jump, or not to
jump? Stay or go?
 
“If you would’ve told me
this (would happen) three years ago, I would’ve called you crazy,”
offered McDermott, the nation’s second-leading scorer at 23.4 points per
game. “So to even be in this situation is really
cool.
 
“I try not to think too much about
the future — just try and take care of business each day at a time, and
good things will happen.”
 
At the moment,
mum’s the word. McDermott and his father/coach, Greg, insist they’re no
deeper than the fact-gathering stage now, something that’ll pick up once
tournaments — including the Big Dance — are over and done
with.
 
“I think it’s every kid’s dream to
play in the NBA. But you want to make sure that, if you make the plunge,
that you do it at the right time,” the elder McDermott said. “And that
there’s research that’s going to need to be done (as to) when it is the
right time.”
 
The Jays’ coach has been down
this road before — most recently with Craig Brackins, a 6-foot-10
forward who was the centerpiece of McDermott’s Iowa State squads between
2007-10. The lanky California native elected to turn pro after his
junior season, and wound up being taken with the 21st pick overall by
Oklahoma City in 2010.
 
“My responsibility
is to the person, just like it was with Craig Brackins when I was
coaching him,” the elder McDermott said. “No matter what’s best for our
program, Doug, like Craig, has to make the decision that’s best for him
at that stage in his life.
 
“After Craig’s
sophomore year, the research kind of pointed in the direction to come
back a year. And that’s what the research pointed at after Doug’s
sophomore year. And we’ll do the research again. But I’m in a little
different situation, because I have to advise him as his coach and do
the research, and then I have to take that hat off and I have to advise
him the best I can as his father, and take everything else
out.”
 
And there’s that double-edged sword
again. The 6-foot-8 forward is Creighton’s bell-cow and bulwark, almost
impossible for his father to realistically replace in the short-term.
According to STATS, Inc., the younger McDermott is one of just three
major-college players since 1996-97 to total at least 2,100 points, 800
rebounds and 150 treys in their career — a group that includes ex-Duke
standout Kyle Singler, a second-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons
back in 2011; and ex-VMI star Reggie Williams, now with the Charlotte
Bobcats.
 
On the flip side, there’s not that
much more to prove — not on the collegiate side of the equation,
anyway. The preseason All-American’s already snatched a regular-season
MVC title, the Jays’ first since 2001, and is chasing a second straight
Valley tourney crown this weekend. Other than greater glory in Bracketville, it’s slim pickings on Dougie Fresh’s undergraduate bucket list.
 
Which begs the question: Is
there a number? Late first round? Pick No. 25 or higher? What would it
take?
 
“We haven’t talked about that yet,”
the elder McDermott countered. “I think it’s just whether he feels the
time is right.”
 
Smith thinks that time is
right here. Right now.
 
For one, the
projected pool of draftable forwards isn’t especially great, at least
compared to what may be hitting the market in 2014. For another, Smith
came away impressed with what he saw of the younger McDermott in person
last summer at the LeBron James Skills Camp, where the Jays star was
part of a group that included Michigan’s Trey Burke, North Texas’ Tony
Mitchell and Murray State’s Isaiah
Canaan.
 
Instead of a mid-major stuff, Smith
saw a dangerous shooter, a smooth passer with good vision, wicked pivot
moves and high I.Q., but not super-quick defensively. Think Kyle Korver
with a mean streak, or maybe Jason Kapono with a bit more polish in the
post. McDermott was a high-school big who’s turned himself into a
“stretch 4” — a post player who’s a career .459 shooter from beyond the
arc, including a .481 clip on treys this season.

 
The Jays forward also spent three weeks
last year with a private instructor working on scoring moves off the
dribble, another wrinkle that’s turned a few heads. At a Pac-12 game
earlier this winter, a scout from one of the NBA’s Western Conference
clubs told Smith that he’d seen McDermott drop 34 points on California
earlier in the year and came away convinced that the kid was a sure-fire
first-rounder.
 
“Like with Korver, he’s not
a great defender, but he kind of holds his own. I think he’s got a real
chance,” Smith said. “He’s got to really evolve into a different style
at the next level. I think teams like his chances of being a specialty
shooter.”
 
How much, though, is the
question. Still, like the man said, all it takes is one team. That and a
Ouija board.
 
You can follow Sean
Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at
seanmkeeler@gmail.com