June 27, 2014
By SEAN BRENNAN
Special to BIGEAST.com
Doug McDermott's career with the Denver Nuggets was shorter than most people's 15 minutes of fame. But aside from the obvious missed marketing opportunity - how long do you think it would have taken McDonald's to convince "McBuckets" to hawk "McNuggets?" - McDermott's ultimate destination of Chicago was a home run for the former Creighton star.
"I'm just really excited to land in Chicago," McDermott told the Associated Press. "This whole process has been pretty crazy. A lot of workouts, a lot of travelling and it's awesome to see all that finally pay off."
McDermott, the BIG EAST Player of the Year and the National College Player of the Year this past season with the Bluejays, was originally selected by the Nuggets with the 11th overall pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. But even before he stepped up to the mike for his obligatory draft interview, McDermott was dealt to the Bulls for the 16th and 19th overall selections, which translated into Jusuf Nurkic, a center from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Michigan State's Gary Harris.
McDermott could prove to be the missing piece for a Bulls team that went 48-34 this past season but struggled mightily on offense. Chicago shot just 42% from the field and 33.3% on three-pointers last season while averaging just 93.7 points a game - the lowest total in the NBA last season.
The Bulls were upset in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs when they lost four games to one to the upstart the Washington Wizards. But McDermott, who led the nation with 26.7 points a game last season for Creighton, could really help remedy the Bulls' offensive ills.
"I think I can provide some outside shooting right from the get-go, to be able to come off screens and play off their superstars," McDermott told ESPNChicago.com. McDermott, who finished his career with 3,150 points, good for fifth on the NCAA's all-time scoring list and had an NCAA record 135 games in which he logged a double-double, shot 52.6% from the floor last season and is a career 45.8% shooter from three-point range.
With Derrick Rose returning from a second ACL injury, along with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson among others, McDermott couldn't have asked for a better landing spot to begin his NBA career.
"Derrick Rose is one of my favorite players," McDermott told the AP. "And I was a huge (Florida) Gators fan so I love Joakim. I can't even believe I'm about to join their team."
But McDermott was not the only BIG EAST player to hear his name called Thursday night. It took almost until the end of the second round - the 55th overall pick to be exact - when Xavier's Semaj Christon was plucked by the Miami Heat. But like McDermott, Christon didn't stay with his original team very long as he was later dealt to the Charlotte Hornets who then traded him to Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder. Talk about a whirlwind night in Brooklyn.
"Semaj is excited to become an NBA Player," Xavier head coach Chris Mack told the school's website. "It's been his dream since he started bouncing a basketball."
Christon, who left the Musketeers after his sophomore season, is the first Xavier player to be drafted since Jordan Crawford went 27th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft to the then New Jersey Nets. He played last season for the Golden State Warriors.
Christon, who was a unanimous 2014 First Team All-BIG EAST selection, led Xavier in scoring at a 17 point per game clip. He finished his two-year career with 1,034 points and 281 assists.
St. John's big man JaKarr Sampson was not drafted Thursday night but he will join the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League team which will play from July 5-11 in Orlando and again from July 11-21 in Las Vegas.
"Toward the end and immediately following the conclusion of the draft, my agent (Seth Cohen of Versus Management) received several calls from teams expressing their interest in having me play for them in Summer League," Sampson said. "Seth went over all the team's situations with me and we decided that the best opportunity for me was with the Philadelphia 76ers. I am looking forward to the opportunity. I will be ready and you can be sure I will make the most of it."
St. John's coach Steve Lavin thinks Sampson will find an NBA home before long.
"Naturally, JaKarr would have preferred to be drafted but he has the upside ability and determination to earn his way on an NBA roster," Lavin said. "No doubt JaKarr has a bright future in basketball."