Feb 16, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays forward Doug McDermott (3) during their NCAA mens basketball game against the Villanova Wildcats at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

Believing in Doug McDermott

“With the 16th pick in the NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls select Doug McDermott out of Creighton University.”

That’s what I wanted to hear on draft night, but I knew it was just about impossible. Doug was just too good to fall that far. That didn’t change the fact that, ever since I realized Doug had a legitimate chance of making it to the NBA, I knew I wanted him on the Bulls.

I never paid much attention to college basketball before I got to high school. Even when I started to, I didn’t pay that much attention to it, but that’s partially because the NBA’s season takes place at the same time.  Despite that, there were still players and teams I paid attention to and kept up with. Doug McDermott and his Creighton Bluejays were one of them.

To be honest, it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school — the same year Creighton alum Kyle Korver joined the Bulls — that I heard of Creighton, but boy, I’m glad I did, because Doug eventually became my favorite college player.

It was difficult, though, to actually watch Doug play. Omaha isn’t exactly a close drive from the Chicago suburbs, and televised Creighton games were hard to come by back then. I managed, though. I kept up with Creighton’s schedule and would check box scores to see how both Doug and his team were doing, and that was the only way for me to do it.

***

I was perfectly content with Doug going to the Denver Nuggets. He was the first college basketball player I’ve had the pleasure of following from the start of his college career to making it to the NBA, so as much as I wanted him in Chicago, it was satisfying to just see him make it to the NBA. But then the tweets came. This was the first one I saw.

That was the first I had heard of Doug going elsewhere, and then I found this.

It was actually happening. This was exactly what I wanted, and apparently everyone else knew that as well. Soon, my Twitter notifications were filled with tweets from my followers about how they knew I’d be excited and happy about Doug.

Most of my excitement had to do with the fact that, for once, the Bulls took the player I wanted them to. What made it even better, though, was the fact it was a good fit. There’s no doubt he’d help solve not only some of Chicago’s shooting issues, but just their scoring issues in general. Even so, there were and still are plenty of people who have their concerns and problems with trading up for Doug. Putting my personal preferences aside, I knew that, after seeing him progress throughout college to become what he is today, the trade was well worth it.

***

Back when I first heard about Doug, he was just a 6-foot-7, 210-pound freshman who was hardly recruited out of high school. He followed his father and Creighton head coach, Greg McDermott, to Creighton after getting out of his Northern Iowa deal. Doug wasn’t quite a scoring superstar yet either, the Bluejays were still in the Missouri Valley Conference, and the Creighton basketball program was simply just a mid-major program that many basketball fans were familiar with.

Despite all of that, Doug was still the dominant force on his team and the MVC, too. He managed to become a starter, lead the Bluejays in scoring with 581 total points and 14.9 points per game and was named MVC Newcomer of the Year and MVC Freshman of the Year. He even represented Team USA as a member of the U19 team for the FIBA World Championships and, afterwards, realized his dream of playing in the NBA could actually become a reality.

For someone who didn’t garner much attention in high school, that’s definitely impressive, even if it was just at a mid-major school. And that was just the start of it.

In his sophomore season, Doug added 10 pounds to his frame, progressed greatly and became an even bigger star at Creighton, and he was already the star of the team before that. From there, the progress and success continued.

He returned to Creighton for his senior year, even though he very well could have declared for the NBA Draft and get drafted, and also proved he wasn’t just a mid-major star.

With Doug leading the way, Creighton dominated the MVC winning the conference championship in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Doug also took home the MVC Player of the Year honor both seasons. Things weren’t too much different once the Bluejays migrated to the Big East Conference. Sure, it was more difficult to compete in, and they didn’t take home the conference title, but a regular season record of 25-6 proves they could handle it, especially Doug.

Just look at the numbers from his senior season in comparison to his junior year. Although he shot the ball less efficiently, Doug still shot the ball very well, rebounded well and produced even more points. His work also earned him the Big East Player of the Year award.

After all he has been through, working his way up to becoming the star player he was at Creighton, Doug never stopped working. He established his dominance as a freshman, but it never stopped there. He just continually improved and proved his talent is real, which is exactly why there’s no doubt in my mind that Doug will succeed as a Bull.

Doug has proved his worth in college, and he’s blown everyone’s minds in doing so. A three-time, consecutive First Team All-American, the 2014 consensus National Player of the Year, one of two NCAA athletes to participate in USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team Mini-Camp. The list just goes on, literally. Just take a look at his profile on Creighton’s athletic site.

 ***

It’s been four days since the draft, four days since Chicago traded for Doug McDermott, and I’m honestly still ecstatic about it all. A lot of it has to do with my personal preferences, but, at the same time, it’s those same personal preferences are why Doug became such a big deal.

Everyone calls him McBuckets, ’cause he can flat out shoot. He became a national sensation for his scoring prowess with the senior season he had, but the thing is he’s had the ability to become that ever since I discovered him.

Following the 2010-11 season, ultimately I was upset that I wouldn’t get to watch my then-favorite Bluejay Kaleb Korver (brother of former Bull Kyle Korver), but that didn’t matter, because I knew I had something to look forward to in Doug. I knew he had potential to be even better, to become a star, and he has done just that.

I still can’t quite understand people’s doubts with Doug and why they wouldn’t want him on the Bulls. Maybe’s he not the player they wanted, but it’s not a bad choice. They desperately need some offense, and Doug offers that, but that’s perfectly fine; everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. However, after following him for this long, I know he’ll do great. It’s difficult to think otherwise after all he’s been through. But the doubters will still remain, and that’s okay, because he’ll just continue to do what he’s been doing: proving people wrong and showing everyone he has what it takes to succeed.

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