The list of the top 25 scorers in NCAA men’s basketball history is packed with big names. There are five hall of fame members and ten all stars. At number five on the list, sitting somewhere between Pete Maravich and Oscar Robertson, is Doug McDermott. The 6’8″ forward from Crieghton just completed his college career, and is poised to be a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Even as one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NCAA, McDermott’s legacy likely depends on his future success in the NBA.
Doug McDermott is one of the now rare players who, in spite of being on the NBA radar since his freshman year, stayed in college for four years. A year ago he was considered a first round possibility. Now, in a much deeper draft class, McDermott is a lock in the lottery (the top 14 picks of the draft, whose order is to be determined), and in all likelihood a top 10 choice. McDermott has gotten better each season, with his scoring jumping from 14.9 per game as a freshman to 22.9, 23.2, and finally a NCAA leading 26.7 as a senior. Not only has McDermott gotten bigger and stronger, as would be expected of someone between the ages of 18 and 22, but he has really developed his skill as a player.
Being the son of a coach has its benefits, and McDermott has always been a smart player capable of getting better. His father Greg McDermott has been a NCAA Division I basketball head coach since Doug was nine years old. When Greg moved from Iowa State to Creighton after the 2009-2010 season, Doug was released from his commitment to Northern Iowa so that he could play for his father. The relationship has worked, with Crieghton finding great success thanks to the leadership of father and talents of son. Even as Creighton moved from the mid-major Missouri Valley Conference to the new Big East, Creighton and Doug McDermott only became more successful and more acclaimed.
Despite the success of Doug McDermott, both individually and for his team, his NCAA legacy has yet to be determined. The most well-renowned names on the college basketball top scorers ranking are players who also found success as professionals. Peppering the list side by side with players like Elvin Hayes, Larry Bird, and David Robinson are others like Harry Kelly and Kevin Bradshaw, names unknown to most. When considering who are the best college players off all time, most fans would defer to those whose names are eminently more famous due to their success as pros on a bigger stage, like Bird, Maravich, Patrick Ewing, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Even some of the other all-time college greats who are still well-recognized today like Bill Walton had very successful careers, even if they were not Hall of Fame worthy.
In a few months McDermott will find out where his basketball career is going to take him. Last year’s draft lottery included only one player who was a college senior, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. It has become rare for top notch talents to stay in college, as most players with NBA talent choose to go pro as soon as they can. McDermott has proven himself as one of the best college basketball players ever, particularly in terms of scoring, but his legacy as a memorable NCAA player has yet to be determined. Continuing his success as a pro in the NBA will make future generations much more aware of the kind of player Doug McDermott was in his brilliant years at Creighton.
Commentary by Brian Moore