Rising Star: Creighton Junior Doug McDermott

(credit: Eric Francis/Getty Images)

(credit: Eric Francis/Getty Images)

By: Mark Chalifoux

It’s been one tremendous season for Creighton. From the rumors that Creighton will be one of the new teams invited to the Big East to the terrific season for the Bluejays, culminating in a No. 7-seed in the NCAA tournament. And the biggest sign the Bluejays are getting national respect is the attention junior small forward Doug McDermott has received this year.

McDermott, a 6-foot 8-inch forward for Creighton has become a National Player of the Year candidate for his dominant junior campaign. He’s become an unstoppable force for Creighton, averaging 23.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s hit some significant milestones in his career, perhaps none bigger than being his conference’s first 2,000-point scorer as a junior.

McDermott’s biggest weapon is his efficiency. He simply doesn’t miss many shots. He scores from the outside at an alarming rate (near 49 percent) and knocks down his shots overall at a 56 percent clip.

McDermott is Creighton’s first two-time first team All-American and has somehow even improved on his 2012 performance. His assist total is higher and he improved his free throw percentage to 86 percent (he shot 79 percent as a sophomore). It would be easy for the coach’s son on a mid-major to be a ball hog, but McDermott scores his points in the most efficient way possible.

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Exhibit A is the March 2 91-79 win over Wichita State. McDermott piled up 41 points but on only 18 shots (15-18 from the floor) and made all six free throws. McDermott has creative low post moves and limits his bad decisions.

He’s projected to be a mid-first round draft pick in the 2013 NBA draft but some have him as low as the second-round. Scouts like his capable scoring but the knock against him will be his lack of overall athleticism and speed. It’s also harder to get a gauge on McDermott’s true ceiling because he plays against less-than-stellar competition in the MVC. He has shown steady improvement in his game over his years at Creighton, including developing an ability to score off the dribble.

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What will be interesting to see is how McDermott handles the stifling defense from No. 10-seeded Cincinnati in their first round matchup. The Bearcats are a tough, scrappy squad known for their strong defense. But if McDermott’s the player Creighton supporters want you to believe, that shouldn’t be enough to stop the Bluejays.

McDermott scores 44 against Bradley

Mark Chalifoux is a college basketball contributor for CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at mark.chalifoux@gmail.com and @markchalifoux on Twitter.

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