Video Below: Watch the press conference with Doug McDermott and coach Greg McDermott
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The statue can wait. The CenturyLink Center won't be renamed for at least another year (Doug McDermott Arena, aka The Dougie). Don't retire his number just yet. Doug McDermott is headed to the scorer's table, to check in for one more season at Creighton.
It's absolutely the right decision.
How could McDermott's legend get any larger? What could he do to top last season — his 41 points over Wichita State to win the Valley in his “final” home game, his All-America repeat?
We found out on Thursday.
The only thing bigger than Creighton playing in the Big East next season is Doug McDermott playing in those games. He just made a tough ticket impossible and a lot of scalpers rich.
He was honored as “Sportsman Of the Year” at the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame dinner on Thursday night. There's no truth to the rumor that they inducted him while he was there.
One more and he's outta here. He may not ever buy a meal or a drink in this town for the rest of his life.
But that's not why he made the right call.
He says he's confident he would have gone in the first round of the NBA draft in two months. We'll never know.
That would have secured him a guaranteed contract, without a guarantee of making a roster. But if he was in a developmental league, at least he'd be driving a really cool ride to the games.
|See some of the best shots from Doug McDermott's junior season.|
He said no to that, to his dream, and so today he's being hailed around the college hoops media rooms as the poster guy for perspective, for everything that's right about the good, old college game.
He's earned even more credits with a college hoops press that already adores him.
But that's not why he did the right thing.
Meanwhile, he gets to be the first man on the moon at Creighton, help lead the school into the frontier known as Big East basketball. All those NBA arenas, all those big cities. CU comes into the league now with more credibility than it would have had without No. 3 carrying the flag into the new adventure.
That's not why this was the best thing he could have done.
The brilliance of his pick was obvious as soon as McDermott explained it.
“I went with my heart,” McDermott said. “I went with my gut. Whenever I've done that in the past, it's worked out.”
For weeks, a lot of us have speculated on The Decision. We had it all figured out, according to us, and knew exactly what he would do. But in the end, we didn't have a clue, because we hadn't talked to the real insider in this story.
When the 21-year-old sought out the only expert who mattered, it came to him in a rush.
Isn't that how all big decisions are made? If not, they should be.
McDermott said he couldn't lose here. And there was some truth to that notion. He once put it succinctly himself, saying it was always his dream to play college basketball. But it was also his dream to play in the NBA.
But the thing is, there was one way McDermott could lose — if he had left before he was ready.
Of all the experts he sought advice from — NBA general managers and scouts and media and fans — the most important expert told him he wasn't ready.
We should have known. You can see the joy in Doug's face, in his game, on the court. Every night he's a painter with a clean canvas and fresh brushes. He plays with imagination, with soul, and just because he's back for one more year of college doesn't mean the paint dries up. With artists like Doug, it keeps flowing, longer and brighter and bolder.
In the end, he teased his Twitter followers, who no doubt were sitting on the end of their laptops just before 2 p.m. Thursday. He sent out a tweet thanking family, teammates and friends, then another tweet that read, “With that being said......”
His third tweet, sent as he walked into the old gym, announced his decision.
That would have been a rude way to say goodbye. But it was a fun way to say hello again. And that was exactly the message here. McDermott was having fun. He likes his fans, he enjoys being a college kid on Twitter. He's having a ball and it shows.
And there's absolutely everything right about that.
Doug McDermott likes Omaha, wearing the Creighton jersey, being the guy but also being a regular guy. He can do that here.
He's a family guy, his father's buddy, his mother's son. He gets to hang out at home, eat the good stuff, enjoy more father-son time than most college kids get with their parents.
He's not ready to give that up. And he doesn't have to.
Kids are so old these days, and they're getting older all the time. In sports, they play year-round and go to national tournaments. They graduate earlier, they go pro earlier. They make the big money earlier. They can't wait.
It's cool to see a guy who isn't in a hurry, who could have gone but stayed because he appreciates where he's at.
This young man fell out of the sky and into our arena. Nobody saw this coming. He looked so young when he got here three years ago. He's grown up, become a man, on the court. He could handle the NBA.
But off the court, I still see a kid, a kid who wants to hang out with his friends, stop off at the house when he wants, live the fun college life.
Good for him. What many young people find out when they become older people is that college was the best time of their life. Some people go through their 20s trying to duplicate it. It doesn't work.
Doug's thought process here could be a case study for young and old. He told The World-Herald's Steve Pivovar that he wanted to put his emotions through two tests. He pretended for one day that he was going pro, then waited to see how he felt about it when he woke up the next morning. Then, he repeated the process pretending to stay at CU.
He did this over and over, and found he was much happier with the decision to stay.
Some guys wouldn't be that brave. You wonder how many young men jump to the NBA who listen to their heads, or their agents or families, and not their hearts.
Then again, it's a fair point that Doug does not come from a family wanting for money. How many college kids jumping to the NBA could have their dad fund a Las Vegas trip with their friends, as Greg McDermott will do?
That didn't make it easy, didn't take away the obvious risks.
Would McDermott have been a first-round pick in June? Possibly. Will he still go mid-to-late first round next year? Very possible, yes. Can he help himself by working on his footwork and ball-handling and athleticism over the offseason, then showing his wares as a big man with perimeter skills next season? Of course.
Is there a chance he could get hurt and blow the whole thing? Yes. Nobody wants that, but every player risks injury. It's part of the game.
He's also risking that he gets smothered by physical Big East defenses, that he doesn't make All-American, that his team misses the NCAAs and it looks like a letdown.
Whatever happens, McDermott is destined to leave next year as the greatest player in Creighton history.
You know what's even better than that? He did it his way.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1025, email@example.com, twitter.com/tomshatelOWH
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>> Video: Watch the Doug McDermott press conference:
>> Video: Greg McDermott reacts to Doug's decision:
>> Video: See Doug McDermott's 2012-13 highlights: