Creighton forward Doug McDermott was arguably the most dominant player in college basketball over the course of his four-year career, and now he has been immortalized as one of the all-time greats.
The senior star's collegiate career came to a fitting end on April 6 as he captured the 2014 Naismith Men's College Basketball Player of the Year Award, according to NBC Sports:
McDermott entered the year as the Naismith favorite, and he managed to live up to the hype. In order to earn the award, however, he had to defeat an eclectic mix of finalists, as seen in this tweet courtesy of ESPN's Jeff Goodman:
Naismith finalists: Doug McDermott, Russ Smith, Nick Johnson, Jabari Parker.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 23, 2014
After falling just short of winning the award in 2012 and 2013, there was little doubt that McDermott was the man to beat in 2014. After leading the Jays to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and averaging nearly 27 points and seven rebounds per game to boot, McDermott sealed his place in college basketball history.
The 6'8" McDermott is a true throwback in that he decided to stay in school for all four years. That is an oddity in today's era of one-and-done players, but McDermott certainly made the most of his time at Creighton.
McDermott got to play for his dad, Greg McDermott, which had to be special in its own right. On top of that, McDermott finished his career fifth all time in NCAA scoring, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Doug McDermott had 15 points in defeat for Creighton. he finishes with 3,150 points for his college career (5th-most all-time)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2014
Unfortunately, his career ended on somewhat of a sour note. The Jays were ousted in the NCAA tournament's round of 32 by the Baylor Bears. Baylor cruised to an 85-55 victory, and McDermott was clearly disappointed when it was all said and done, according to Thayer Evans of SI.com.
"This is the worst we've played all season, and it just stinks that it's the last one," McDermott said. "It's hard to end on something like this."
That one defeat certainly doesn't define McDermott's career, though. He somehow managed to get better with each passing season, and he was the driving force behind the resurgence of Creighton basketball.
McDermott's supporting cast wasn't incompetent by any means, but nobody would argue with the fact that McDermott was tasked with putting the team on his back more often than not.
It won't be easy for the Jays to carry on without him, but now that McDermott has put Creighton back on the map, the program should continue to grow moving forward.
With McDermott ready to move on to bigger and better things, it has given observers an opportunity to reflect upon his collegiate career.
Goodman had nothing but good things to say about McDermott's character:
Doug McDermott is most humble college basketball superstar I've ever seen since I have been covering the sport. Sad to this it end this way.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 24, 2014
Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com paid perhaps the ultimate compliment, though, by putting him in elite company:
It's been real, Doug McDermott. One of the best college basketball players I'll ever see.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 24, 2014
McDermott can't be called the greatest college basketball player of all time since he never sniffed a national championship, but his name definitely deserves to be mentioned among some of the best.
The fact that he was willing to go against the grain in comparison to his peers proved how much college basketball means to him, and that is certainly part of his legacy.
In many ways, McDermott is a true throwback. Most players would have entered the draft after having a season as productive as the one McDermott had last year, but he felt like he had unfinished business in terms of chasing a national title and graduating as well.
Although McDermott was unable to accomplish the former, it's difficult to argue with his decision to return to school. It remains to be seen where he will fall in the NBA draft, but he improved in most areas this past season, so one can only assume that his draft stock improved too.
There were plenty of great players in college basketball this season, but none of them meant more to their team than McDermott. It can be argued that the Jays would have been a .500 team or worse without him, and that truly speaks to his importance.
Who most deserved to win the Naismith Player of the Year Award?
It's unfortunate that such an incredible collegiate career didn't end in glory on the court for McDermott, but being named the Naismith Player of the Year certainly isn't a bad consolation prize.
McDermott very easily could have won the award twice or even three times, which would have put him in rarefied air. Luck wasn't on his side in that regard over the previous two years, but his 2013-14 performance and overall body of work made him a shoo-in for the honor this year.
It would have been an absolute shame if McDermott was snubbed again, and it would have negatively impacted the long-term view of his time at Creighton.
The reality of the situation is that McDermott's career was incredible regardless of the hardware he accrued, but the Naismith Men's College Basketball Player of the Year Award cemented his status.
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