Doug McDermott wants to be just one of the guys on the Creighton basketball team.
That’s not easy to do when almost daily McDermott has someone telling him that he might be THE GUY in college basketball this season.
After earning first-team All-America honors last season as a sophomore, McDermott knew he’d get a lot of attention this season. McDermott’s recent performances — he’s averaged almost 26 points and 9 rebounds since Creighton started Missouri Valley play — has some observers saying player-of-the-year honors could be his to lose.
Not surprisingly, McDermott’s response has been to take it all in strides. He remains as humble as he was as a freshman. He’s always quick to deflect the praise being directed his way to his teammates.
After scoring 39 points against Missouri State, McDermott went out of his way to credit his teammates for getting him the ball in spots he could score, even though that night that might have been anywhere on the floor.
After getting 31 points Tuesday against Northern Iowa and moving past Creighton legend Kyle Korver on the school’s scoring chart, McDermott called it all “surreal” and then quickly shifted the focus to Saturday’s game at Wichita State.
The way he has handled the glut of attention that might overwhelm some players is exactly how coach-dad Greg McDermott hoped he would. Greg McDermott said his son learned some important lessons in high school in watching how teammate Harrison Barnes dealt with the situation.
Barnes was regarded as one of the top high schoolers in the nation by the time he was a senior at Ames, Iowa, High School. ESPNU broadcast the press conference in which Barnes committed to North Carolina.
“Harrison never allowed it (attention) to affect his work ethic or his preparation or his team,” Greg McDermott said. “There’s no book that I can give to Doug and say, ‘Read this’ so he would know what to do.
“It’s more an individual having a feel for that. Doug doesn’t want to tell people no, but there are a lot of people trying to get to him. We’ve tried to handle some of that for him.’’
Father McDermott wants son to have as close to a normal collegiate experience as possible. At the same time, he knows the attention Doug receives is not only good for his son but for the Creighton program.
“I’m more proud of the way he’s handled his success than what’s going on on the basketball floor,’’ Greg said. “That’s a difficult thing to balance. You have a group of teammates, and you have a player getting an awful lot of attention.
“Fortunately, Doug has a group of guys around him that understands that he doesn’t desire to have all this attention. It’s just happened, and I’ve been pretty proud of the way he’s handled it.”