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Creighton surprise McDermott makes his own name, rep

by | CBSSports.com College Basketball Blogger
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Creighton expects Doug McDermott to improve on his stellar fresman campaign. (Provided to CBSSports.com)  
Creighton expects Doug McDermott to improve on his stellar fresman campaign. (Provided to CBSSports.com)  

This wasn't the plan for Doug McDermott.

The Creighton sophomore was expected to redshirt his freshman season, work on his body and learn the college game behind two veterans. Senior Casey Harriman then tore his labrum and missed the entire season after shoulder surgery, while sophomore Ethan Wragge suffered from plantar fasciitis and played only nine games.

"When the opportunity came up, he took advantage of it," Greg McDermott, Doug's father and head coach, said.

Instead of being a practice player all season, McDermott became one of the best freshmen in the country and now enters this campaign with preseason All-American consideration. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds, shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range. McDermott earned first-team all-Missouri Valley honors and was invited to try out for the United States U-19 National team.

No one could have foreseen this 180-degree turnaround.

"Not in my wildest dreams," Greg McDermott said. "You probably undersell your own kid sometimes, but how quickly he was able to transfer what made him a successful high school player to the college game was a bit of a surprise for me."

Even Doug McDermott didn't expect his newfound recognition.

"I really didn't. I was really, really shocked when I saw that [I was named preseason All-America by the Sporting News]," McDermott said. "At the same time, it doesn't mean anything right now. It'd be better if I had that after the season."

While his freshman performance was highly impressive, it was his experience with the U-19 national team that launched him into a new echelon of players. McDermott played the second-most minutes on the team, averaging 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in nine games.

His game translated well to the foreign style of play, as the prototypical European power forward is somewhat undersized and can score both inside and out. Proving his worth alongside Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb, Memphis' Joe Jackson, Florida's Patric Young and others has given McDermott an extra boost heading into the season.

"He feels pretty good about where his game is," Greg McDermott said. "He's played against some of the best players in the world. The hard work has paid off, but he's still motivated."

"I think my confidence is at an all-time high right now," Doug McDermott added.

For most of his basketball career, McDermott was often overshadowed. At Ames High School (Iowa), he was the teammate of North Carolina star -- and former No. 1 recruit -- Harrison Barnes. Moreover, he's always been known as the "head coach's son," as he originally signed to play at Northern Iowa before following his father to Creighton.

McDermott never cared about being associated with a star teammate or a successful father and head coach; in fact, it might have given him some extra publicity.

"It's something I got used to," he said. "Harrison is an outstanding player. It's cool going back to Ames High School, what we did was special. Going undefeated, playing on ESPN. And it's kind of cool being mentioned with my father, as the son of Greg McDermott."

As McDermott develops into a star in his own right, though, the references to "Harrison Barnes' high school teammate" have slowed down.

"It's fallen off a bit," he said. "We're on our own, and I think it's good I have my own reputation."

This season, McDermott won't be able to sneak up on anyone. There are no thoughts about redshirting or coming off the bench. Because of his excellent freshman season and breakout performance in Latvia with the national team, the bar has been raised for McDermott.

He has his own reputation now, but he also has higher expectations.

"It's tough to deal with that, as coach and father, to help him deal with those expectations," Greg McDermott said. "My expectation for Doug is to continue to motivate him. He's remained humble as always."

To Doug's credit, he isn't focused on individual accolades or looking to prove himself as an All-America.

"It's a big difference," he said. "Coaches made it clear we would have different expectations. We can't let it get to our heads. I had a good year last year, and I'm just going to try to bring that into the season."

If McDermott's career path is any indication, expect some surprises along the way too.

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