Is Doug McDermott the Last Great Career Scorer in College Basketball?

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Is Doug McDermott the Last Great Career Scorer in College Basketball?
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Putting an emphatic capstone on an incredible four-year career, Creighton's Doug McDermott averaged 26.7 points per game in 2013-14, passed the 3,000-point mark for his career and won the Wooden Award on Friday afternoon to the surprise of absolutely no one.

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With all the accolades he's received on the heels of his senior season, we're left to wonder: Will we ever see another McDermott?

The game has changed so much over the past few decades that it's almost unthinkable.

According to this website dedicated entirely to comparing Doug McDermott's achievements to those of the greats from yesteryear, there have only been 64 players in college basketball history to score 2,500 points in a career. Only eight have reached the 3,000-point mark. And the vast majority of the names on that list are from decades ago.

Once upon a time, players stayed in school for four years. Scroll through this list of early entrants to the NBA over the years, and it's crazy to see how much the landscape changed just in the 15 years from 1981 (five early entrants to the NBA draft) to 1996 (37 early entrants).

That list stops at 2001, but the rate of decay certainly hasn't decreased much over the last 13 years.

David J. Phillip

In addition to ignoring the allure of the NBA for four years, let's do some math to explain how rare McDermott is.

To score 3,000 points in a college career, a player needs to average somewhere between 19-25 points per game from the moment he first steps on the court, depending on how successful the team is. Let's assume, however, that this prolific scorer isn't playing for a perennial candidate to win it all, and say he averages 33 games per season rather than 40.

That's 22.7 points per game for 132 games. We'll even round down and call it a flat 22.0 points per game. Only seven players reached that plateau this season. Four players did it last year and five the year before. And aside from McDermott, those were primarily seniors stepping up their game in their final season.

Can you even imagine a scenario in which a freshman scored that many points per game and then stayed for three more years? Indiana's Noah Vonleh barely averaged half of that at 11.3 points per game, and he'll likely be a top-10 draft pick this June.

Why stay in school and get paid nothing while risking injury when you could get paid millions of dollars to do the exact same thing somewhere else without having to go to classes?

Money talks, and 19-year-old kids listen. That's the main reason we'll never see another Doug McDermott.

Eric Gay

We've certainly come close in recent years, though.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 2,872 points in his four-year career at North Carolina. J.J. Redick tallied 2,769 points for Duke in four seasons. But even after four years of grooming, neither was a top-10 pick, just barely making it into the NBA lottery rangepretty much exactly where McDermott is projected to be drafted.

But for the most part, anyone capable of putting the ball in the hoop with that much regularity is gone in an instant. NC State's T.J. Warren averaged 12.1 points per game in his freshman season before putting up 24.9 points per game this year. There was almost no doubt that we wouldn't see him play a third year, let alone a fourth.

College basketball fans have had to just accept that this is the way things are now. Because it's so uncommon to see a great scorer stay for four years, it was inevitable that we would all fall head-over-heels in love with perhaps the last player to gift us that viewing experience.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Now, this is all assuming business continues as usual.

With a few changes, however, the NCAA could be churning out players with McDermott's career numbers on a regular basis.

What if the NCAA finally did the sensible thing and reduced the shot clock to 24 seconds? McDermott averaged 0.411 points per Creighton possession this season, and the Bluejays averaged 64.9 possessions per game. Just by increasing the average number of possessions to 70 per game, McDermott's scoring average (theoretically) would have jumped from 26.7 to 28.8.

Increasing the speed of the game inevitably increases the scores of the gameespecially if the rule changes from this past summer eventually result in a more free-flowing and high-scoring game.

McDermott got a lot of his points from the free-throw line594 of them, to be exactso you could argue that less fouling is bad for scoring averages. But you also have to wonder how much shooting percentages would increase across the board if players were getting into a rhythm instead of stopping for someone to shoot free throws every 25 seconds.

Last, but most certainly not least, what if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gets his wish and increases the minimum age for a player to enter the draft?

Will we ever see another Doug McDermott?

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In a perfect world (for college basketball enthusiasts), basketball would adopt the same principles as baseball. If you think you're good enough to go straight from high school to the pros, have at it. But if you're coming to college, you're staying for a minimum of three years and at least pretending to care about getting a degree.

(Actually, in a perfect world, college athletes would get compensated more than a sociology or sports management degree and would actually have some incentive to stay in school, but that's an entirely different and gigantic ball of wax.)

We would still inevitably have players leaving early to play overseas, and we would never have gotten to even see Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker in a college uniform. But it certainly seems to be the only way we'll ever see another 3,000-point scorer.

Until those things come to pass, though, let all of these player of the year awards for McDermott serve as a week-long eulogy for the high-scoring, four-year college basketball player.

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After playing his final game against Baylor on March 23, McDermott told reporters"This is the worst we've played all season, and it just stinks that it's the last one. But that doesn't take away from all my memories here. It's tough to go out this way."

It was tough for all of us.

 

Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.

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