What would you do if you were Doug McDermott?
If NBA Draft night was two months away and all you had to do to be a professional basketball player was bypass your senior season.
If you dreamed about walking in the footsteps of Jordan and Kobe before you were big enough to shoot a free throw.
If you had a chance to be one of college basketball’s top five scorers of all-time. A three-time All-American.
If your last game at CenturyLink was your Mona Lisa, a 41-point, 15-for-18 outburst against your arch-rival.
If you couldn’t possibly top that. Couldn’t possibly prove more.
If your program was moving up to join the big boys of the Big East — and you had a chance to lead the transition.
If your father was your head coach. Yes, he was a pain in your &%$ sometimes. But you loved playing for him. You felt intense loyalty to him and his program.
If you knew leaving now left him in a bad place for his first year in the Big East.
If you had his blessing to leave.
If your next Creighton team wouldn’t be as good as your last two, regardless of conference.
If you knew it wasn’t just you these past two years, but Grant Gibbs and Gregory Echenique that made the team great. It would be different. It would feel different.
If you truly loved playing at Creighton. You never viewed it like some prospects see their school — a stepping stone to the NBA. This was home. This is home.
If leaving meant you couldn’t eat Mom’s home-cooked meals on Sundays.
If leaving meant starting over from scratch, alone.
If leaving meant a chance to chart your own path — apart from Mom and Dad.
If you’re dying to face the challenge — to see what it takes.
If you still remember Coach K and Bill Self and Roy Williams coming to your high school to recruit somebody else.
If you still remember people saying you couldn’t play Division I.
If you heard people all the time say you can’t play in the NBA.
If you wanted to shut ‘em up.
If accomplishing big things means leaving comfortable things.
If maturity requires making decisions with your head, not your heart.
If there’s always a chance you get hurt and never get another chance to go pro.
If you knew in your heart you were better than the guys projected as first-round picks.
If you improved so much at Creighton the past two years and didn’t know if you could improve the same way on an NBA bench.
If, to make that final jump, you wondered if your faults needed to be exposed by the world’s best players.
If you knew guys in your shoes — All-Americans — had given up even more. Jared Sullinger left Ohio State. DeJuan Blair left Pitt. They could’ve come back and competed for national championships.
If one reason guys jump to the NBA is money.
If your family already had money. A bunch of it.
If you couldn’t help but wonder what you’d do with $1 million of your own.
If you knew staying one more year didn’t mean forfeiting a pro career. Tyler Hansbrough was a three-time All-American at North Carolina. One of the greatest college players ever. He will play 10 years in the league. You can have your cake and eat it, too.
If you didn’t want to be like Adam Morrison and declare early, then sit the NBA bench.
If you weren’t guaranteed a contract because you might not even be a first-round pick.
If you go in the second round, the franchise may decide to dump you on the street.
If, even with a first-round contract, you may spend the first year on the bench or, worse, in the D-League. Can you imagine choosing the D-League over a third All-American season?
If the draft was deeper next year and your stock might never be higher.
If you knew draft position didn’t really matter. Just as recruiting rankings didn’t really matter. Kyle Korver went 51st overall. Anthony Tolliver wasn’t drafted. Look at them now. You can play. You’ll prove it. You always have.
If you knew Thunder GM Sam Presti watched you light up Cal for 34. And dozens of scouts had seen you the past six months. And maybe one of them loved you and wanted desperately to pick you in the first round and give you 20 minutes off the bench next to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
If you were still pinching yourself to make sure this wasn’t just a dream. You didn’t prepare for this decision like Harrison Barnes did. He knew his professional destiny before college even started. You didn’t know if you’d even start at Creighton.
If everybody in your world had an opinion on your decision, and you couldn’t go outside without hearing advice. Wednesday a local sportswriter conducted a little straw poll on Twitter, asking people what they’d do if they were me: 20 respondents said “go.” 19 said “stay.” Crazy, huh.
If you had only one more year to be coached by Dad, to be a college student, to not need to worry about agents and contracts and playing time.
If life doesn’t get much better than that.
If you knew Jordan and Kobe didn’t become great by getting sentimental.
If you want so badly to feel the CenturyLink crowd when Georgetown comes in.
If you want so badly to feel an NBA arena when the Heat come in.
If you could play a conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.
If you could play there in the NBA, too.
If you had a chance to be a legend in Omaha.
If you already were.
What would you do?