June 23, 2014
By SEAN BRENNAN
Special to BIGEAST.com
For most of the country, Father's Day came over a week ago. But for Creighton head basketball coach Greg McDermott, well, there won't be any cheesy ties or gift cards to Home Depot this year. No, this year's gift will be something far more memorable - even if it comes 11 days late - when his son, Creighton star Doug McDermott, will hear his name called early in Thursday night's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"It's something that four years ago we certainly weren't anticipating," said Greg McDermott, who guided the Bluejays to a 27-8 overall record and a 14-4 mark in Creighton's first season in the BIG EAST. "So to see all his hard work pay off to the level that he could be a lottery pick is really hard to fathom on a lot of levels. But it's going to make for an incredible evening on Thursday. We'll have our family there and some close friends and we'll all be able to celebrate together."
But McDermott is not the only BIG EAST player anxiously awaiting Thursday's festivities. Xavier's Semaj Christon, Providence's Bryce Cotton, Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin, Georgetown's Markel Starks and St. John's JaKarr Sampson also hope to hear their names called in Brooklyn Thursday night.
Christon, a sophomore guard who averaged 17 points a game for the Musketeers, has been mentioned as going anywhere from the late first round to the early second round. Cotton, who helped propel Providence to the BIG EAST tournament title last March with a sterling 23.4 points per game average, is being viewed as a mid-to-late second rounder. Sampson, the Red Storm sophomore who posted 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, could go in the late second round. Edwin, Seton Hall's all-time steals leader who also averaged a team-best 14.5 points a game, and Starks, who logged 17.3 points and 4.1 assists for the Hoyas, may go undrafted and sign as free agents with interested NBA clubs.
But for the McDermotts, after being joined at the hip at Creighton the past four seasons, Greg McDermott hasn't seen much of his much-heralded son in the last two months. Such is the price to be paid when you're preparing for life in the NBA.
"After the season ended we were travelling around the country to all the awards banquets and that was really rewarding for me because I could step back and just be a dad and celebrate the career he had and the special season he had," Greg McDermott said. "That was enjoyable. But he left (Omaha) in mid-April to start his training in Chicago with his agent and outside of being back a day for graduation he's pretty much been on the go ever since."
That constant traveling and endless workouts for NBA teams made Doug McDermott unavailable for this story. And those workouts have been numerous, as has been the travel.
"Doug has worked out for the Celtics, the Lakers and Charlotte," Greg McDermott said. "And Sacramento, Denver, Minnesota and Golden State all came to Chicago to see him work out so he's been pretty busy."
But despite being mere days away from seeing his life change and his dream fulfilled, it has not been an easy process for the former Creighton star, so says his dad.
"I think it's been a bit of a grind on him but I think he has enjoyed it, too," Greg McDermott said. "He's worked out for four teams and he's had other teams come to Chicago to watch him but he's really just looking to improve his game, work on things that he feels he's going to need to be successful as he makes the jump to the NBA. Now he's at the point where he's just anxious. He wants to know where he's going to go, where he's going to live, who his coach is going to be. So the next three or four days leading up to the draft are going to be some long days because he's anxious to see what the next step is going to be."
Whoever drafts McDermott will be getting an offensively-gifted player, one who ended his career with 3,150 points, good for fifth on the NCAA's all-time scoring list, and one who also set an NCAA record with 135 games in which he scored in double figures while being just one of only three players in NCAA history to log 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
"I think he worked out pretty well (for the NBA teams)," Greg McDermott said. "I think people recognize his ability to score the basketball. But I think he's probably surprised people that he's a little bit better an athlete than they anticipated he would be so that's been a positive for Doug. It's just a matter of finding a fit but you have very little say in this process. So my guess is he can go anywhere from No. 6 to 20 and anywhere in between wouldn't surprise me one way or another."
Having worked out for so many teams so far leading up to the draft, does Greg McDermott have a feeling of which team might select Doug?
"Not really," Greg McDermott said. "You're just looking for the right situation for him and where there is a need for him because obviously as you move on to the NBA, where you wind up first really dictates the rest of your career. So you're trying to find that right landing spot and trying to find your niche and once you get there then being able to contribute to winning basketball. That's what he's looking for and we hope that is going to happen here on Thursday."
There are several teams with multiple first-round picks in Thursday's draft, including the Celtics, who pick at 6 and 17, Orlando with the fourth and 12th picks, Utah at 5 and 23 and Charlotte with the ninth and 24th selections. So, what about that story out there that said Doug and dad grew up as Celtics fans?
"Obviously the Celtics with their tradition of success is incredible," Greg McDermott said. "But you couple that with the fact that both Doug and I have tremendous respect for (Celtics head coach) Brad Stevens as a coach and Danny Ainge as a GM, if that happens that would be terrific. But we'll see what happens on Thursday."
It's an exciting time for the McDermott family and the whole brood plans on arriving in New York Tuesday night. Then just two nights later one McDermott will be off to live his NBA dream while the other will revel in the greatest Father's Day gift ever.
"For Doug I think there will be a sense of relief to just finally know where he's going to go," Greg McDermott said. "But for me, I'm not sure how it's going to hit me. It's still hard to believe but obviously it goes without saying I'm be very proud of the path he has taken to get to where he is today. It has been a process over four years time that he has been very committed to and it's a testament to the fact that hard work will, in fact, pay off if you stay the course. But there will be a tremendous sense of pride, no question."