McDermott worked hard at his step-back fadeaway as a senior, a move that should help him at the next level. (Greg Nelson/SI)
Doug McDermott was a three-time All-America at Creighton who finished his career with 3,150 points, good for fifth all-time in the NCAA. The 6-8 forward won the Wooden and Naismith awards as national player of the year and is a potential lottery pick in this year's NBA draft.
McDermott spoke with SI.com about his four years with the Bluejays and how he's developed as a player and as a person during that time.
SI: What was critical about your time at Creighton that brought you to this point?
DM: I definitely grew as a player. Each year, I added something to my game. I wasn't one-dimensional as a freshman, but I did a lot of pick-and-pop, back-to-the-basket stuff. I really benefitted each year I stayed. All four years, I got a lot better. But for me, more importantly, I feel like I really matured as a person. A lot of these guys are younger, they only had like one year of college, but I had a chance to stay all four years. I just really grew up and filled into my body and was able to mature both on and off the court.
SI: The intense glare on you the past one or two years – how does that translate to helping you at the next level?
DM: There's been a lot of attention, especially last year. It'll be different in the NBA because I got a lot of national attention my senior year. Once you get to the NBA, you're just another guy. It'll be nice for me, because I've gone through a lot of that stuff, being in the spotlight. I know how to handle pressure situations.
SI: Year by year, what were the specific additions to your game along the way at Creighton? What was the growth process?
DM: After my freshman year, I was able to work on my face-up game, from like 15 feet. My freshman year, I did a lot of back-to-the-basket post-ups. I wasn't seeing a lot of double-teams so I was able to do that. My sophomore year, I worked a lot on facing up, being able to hit that 15-footer consistently. My junior year, it's kind of just building on that. I really worked on my handle, where I could face up and make one or two dribbles into a different shot. Senior year, I really worked on that step-back, that fadeaway, and that was something I was really comfortable with. I liked it my junior year, but my senior year, it was a go-to shot for me going against some of those athletes in the Big East.
SI: You've also talked about how you worked on a quicker release before your senior season. What prompted that and how did you work on that aspect of your shot?
DM: I was starting to become more of a focal point for defenses, and you don't have all day to get into your shot and mess around. Usually another guy is coming right at you. I really worked on my release, getting it quicker. Watching film of certain guys in the NBA – guys like Ray Allen, how quick they get it off, even Kyle Korver, who comes off screens and makes a decision before it's even in his hands. That's something I worked on. Another thing I got a lot better at was reading screens and playing off others. Knowing where to cut – that's something I really was successful with, moving without the ball.
SI: What games or moments were important mileposts for you in four years at Creighton?
DM: After my freshman year, the USA Basketball experience that summer [at the FIBA Under-19 World Championship], that's when I really believed I could be a really good player. I was under the radar and they invited me out to their training camp. I wasn't expecting to make the team, and I ended up getting on the team and starting and playing a lot of minutes for that U-19 team. That was the biggest thing for me, because my confidence was through the roof after that year. My sophomore year, I ended up having a really good year, and I credited a lot of that to USA.
SI: Senior Night and hitting the 3,000-point mark – anything you look back on in that 24-48 hour span that you reflect on, that maybe at that time seemed like a blur?
DM: That Providence game was probably my favorite game as a Creighton player. [McDermott finished with a career-high 45 points on 17-of-25 shooting and passed the 3,000-point mark for his career.] Just because there was so much hype leading into it, and it being Senior Night for all us seniors, and I had the chance to get to the 3,000-point range. I've never been so focused for a game. It wasn't about getting 3,000 points. It was just going out in the right way, and that was probably my best game I had in my career.
SI: So after four years, what did you learn about yourself?