Yes, it’s awesome. Yes, it’s a rare victory for the power of love over the smell of money. Yes, Doug McDermott transforms Creighton from an unknown in the new Big East to a contender, just like that.
But now that the smoke has had some time to clear, now that the applause has finally died down, you know what makes his dad the happiest?
Peace of mind.
No second thoughts, no pangs, no laments. Dougie Fresh, the biggest man on a very small Omaha campus, walks with a bounce in his step again.
“I feel better now than I did on the day he made the decision,” McDermott’s father, Greg, the Bluejays’ coach, tells FOX Sports Kansas City. “Simply because he’s had no regrets.
“A weight has been lifted off his shoulders and he really feels like he made the decision that is best for him. As a father and a coach, that’s all I can ask for.”
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft came and went on April 28. Doug, who averaged 23.2 points last winter and 22.7 points the winter prior, had made up his mind a few days earlier that — in something of an upset — he would remain in school.
The reasons proved equal parts valid and admirable: There was a senior season to play, a wicked new league to navigate, and unfinished business dangling like a giant carrot. The 6-foot-8 forward’s already got two Missouri Valley Conference Player Of The Year awards, two MVC tournament championships, and a regular-season Valley title at the top of his LinkedIn profile. He’s dropped 30 points on Wisconsin, 34 on California, 27 on Cincinnati and 41 on Wichita State. Shockers coach Gregg Marshall, who has no filter when it comes to saying what he really thinks, has likened the younger McDermott to Larry Bird.
But Bird never got to play in the Big East. That was a perk. So was the chance to carry a team past the third round of the NCAA Tournament, one of the few tricks Dougie has yet to pull off while dancing in CU blue.
“It answers a few questions, certainly,” the elder McDermott says of his Jays squad, which already will be without departing senior guard Grant Gibbs and senior center Gregory Echenique next fall. “We had questions, going into a new league, where you fit.”
Now they have expectations, same as always. Which, come to think of it, beats the snot out of the alternative.
“You’ve got nine new scouting reports to do, to give yourself a plan in order to give yourself a chance to (win),” the coach continues. “And having those 23 points per game in the lineup solves some problems with that.”
Several, in fact. Creighton hits the Big East with Dougie Fresh, a big ol’ mess of role players — stretch ‘4’ Ethan Wragge, point guard Austin Chatman — mixed with a promising unknowns, which will be challenging enough.
Now imagine rolling into Georgetown or Marquette armed with ONLY a big ol’ mess of role players mixed with promising unknowns. As a coach, Greg McDermott is a lot of things. But he ain’t dumb.
“You’d have a difficult time replacing what Doug did with one person,” Papa McDermott admits.
“I certainly think we have some experience and some guys that have paid their dues that are capable of elevating their play. But when you have someone like Doug that is scoring the ball the way he does, it creates problems for opposing defenses and opens things up on the floor for the other guys to have success.”
And it’s a potential financial risk, sure, but one everybody in the McDermott camp is willing to accept. Besides, can you put a price on sharing those road trips to Philly and D.C., a price on sharing center stage together at Madison Square Garden? Just to be safe, they’ll look into an insurance policy, just as they did a year ago, although “those things don’t cover nearly as much as you think they do,” the coach notes.
“Like the accident the kid at Louisville (Kevin Ware) had (in the NCAA Tournament), that accident would not be covered. You have to not be able to play basketball again … it’s not quite as cut and as dry as you would think.”
Nor, to be frank, is Dougie’s NBA dossier. While many scouts projected McDermott as a late first-rounder if he’d taken the pro plunge, crafty enough to snatch a guaranteed contract, there were others who saw flaws that could be exposed at the next level — defense, dribbling, athleticism, brute strength chief among them. Plus …
“I think he really enjoys being a college kid,” the elder McDermott allows. “I also think that he feels like, when it’s time to be ready to go to the NBA, you better be 100 percent ready. You better have your game ready, and you better have your mind ready.”
Dougie’s game was ready. Dougie’s mind was ready. Dougie’s heart was not. There was truly no wrong choice, but the Iowa native was the one who had to live with it, the one who had to be able to sleep at night.
“It’s something else off the plate,” Greg says. “That was a pretty big piece.”
Big No. 3 rests easier now. Dad does, too, for obvious reasons.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com