In Division I college basketball history, there have only been seven players who have scored at least 3000 points. If Creighton’s Doug McDermott returns next year for his senior season, he’s got a legitimate shot to be the eighth.
“He can beat you by himself,” said Bearcats coach Mick Cronin. “Our guys see a lot of great players, but we have not seen a scorer of his magnitude.”
Maybe not in person, but the Bearcats say they have seen players that McDermott reminds them of in the NBA.
“I think he’s like Dirk Nowitzki,” said Cashmere Wright. “You don’t find too many 6’8″ guys with the skill level that he has. He’s got a nice game.”
“He’s very crafty — like a Larry Bird type,” said Justin Jackson. “He’s not that athletic, but he knows the game. He’s the best scorer that I’ve seen in college by far.”
Wait a second. Wasn’t Jackson one-year-old when Larry Legend played his last NBA game?
“I’ve watched him on film when the NBA Classics come on,” said Jackson with a grin.
This year, McDermott has made more field goals than any other player in college basketball, even though he ranks 17th in shots attempted. Of his 273 baskets, 124 have been bank shots (45%) and 24 have been scored with the left hand.
“He’s got an old-school flavor to his game,” said Titus Rubles. “You can tell that his dad (Creighton coach Greg McDermott) worked with him when he was younger.”
“He’s a coach’s son,” said Wright. “You have no choice but to learn it — especially if you love the game.”
In addition to a wide variety of low-post moves, McDermott is a great outside shooter, draining 74 of 149 3-point attempts (.497).
“He shoots 50% from the three point line at his height — that’s insane,” said Rubles.
“After two days of film, (our players) have tremendous respect for his game,” said Coach Cronin. “Whenever you’re able to show video of guys making three point shots that don’t touch the rim or the net — with him, you can pick out shots that are so clean that they literally don’t hit anything.
“Finally one of our guys says, ‘He doesn’t even hit the net.’ That’s when you pause and say, ‘You see what we’re dealing with.’ ”
Rubles and Jackson figure to spend the most minutes trying to defend the two-time First Team All-American.
“The key is to make him earn every basket that he gets and make him defend too,” said Rubles. “He’s going to score because he’s a great player, but the key is to make him work for every point that he gets.
“We’ve got to be calm, stay on our feet, and make him shoot over us,” said Jackson. “And we can’t foul him because he ain’t going to miss free throws. Keep him off the line, make him shoot over us, and hopefully he’ll miss.”
I told Rubles and Jackson that they could be the Bearcats MVPs on Friday without scoring a point, if they can hold McDermott to his scoring average or less — a notion that I shared with Cashmere Wright.
“I agree.” said Wright. “I tell them all the time, ‘We really don’t need you to score too much, but we need you to do everything else.’ ”
“This isn’t something that I’m scared of,” said Rubles. “I’m embracing the challenge. I wish the game were today to be honest.”