When Creighton forward Doug McDermott scored in double digits in each of his first four games last fall, Lawlor's, an Omaha sporting-goods company began printing blue T-shirts whose white lettering read T3ACH M3 HOW TO DOUGI3—a nod to the Cali Swag District song and McDermott's name and jersey number. Bluejays fans snapped them up at $19.98 a pop. "I was kind of embarrassed when my mom bought a bunch for our family Christmas exchange," says McDermott, who neither owns the tee nor does the Dougie.
Should the shirt's sales ever flag, Lawlor's might tap into other Missouri Valley Conference markets to peddle a revised version: TEACH ME HOW TO DEFEND DOUGIE—a task far more demanding than learning a few hip-hop moves. Creighton opponents have been unable to choreograph schemes to undo Dougie, a hyperefficient 6'7", 220-pound sophomore who at week's end was pouring in 23.4 points a game (third in the nation) on 62.4% shooting, including 51.3% from beyond the arc. "I thought the guy single-handedly broke the spirit of my team," said Tulsa's Doug Wojcik after McDermott dropped 35 points in an 83--64 rout on Dec. 19.
"He has a real gift for taking the ball from the catch to the shot efficiently and quickly," says coach Mark Phelps of Drake, which surrendered 30 points and nine rebounds to McDermott in Creighton's 77--69 win on Jan. 25. "He can release it at any angle or level and still get it there. He can jump, he can get fouled, and right at the end he can get it up there with a really soft touch. And his basketball IQ is really high."
"He's a nightmare," says Bradley coach Geno Ford, whose team has surrendered 44 and 24 points to McDermott in two losses. "He is as smart a player as I've seen in a long time. He reminds me of Wally Szczerbiak. He has incredible hands, incredible timing, great feet. He's always a pass ahead. It's almost comical how many times he allows the defense to beat him to the spot so he can reverse-seal his man and catch it on the other side. If you're a high school basketball coach, you should be showing your kids Doug tapes. I don't doubt he'll play in the NBA, because he'll figure out a way. I just hope it's sooner rather than later."
There aren't many players who can inspire so much praise—and dread—while touching the ball as seldom as McDermott, who through Sunday had led the No. 17 Bluejays to a 21--3 record, including a conference-leading 11--2, and sparked talk of a potential Final Four run in the NCAA tournament. In the win at Drake, his 30 points came on 14 shots and nine free throws in 33 minutes. Creighton video coordinator Nathan Wieseler calculated the total time the ball was in McDermott's hands: 1:23, which equates to a point for every 2.8 seconds. According to tempo-free stats guru Ken Pomeroy, the only high-usage player (at least 28% of his team's possessions) with a higher offensive rating than McDermott's 125.7 is the country's leading scorer, Weber State junior point guard Damian Lillard (129.8).
The elegance of McDermott's minimalism isn't lost on the Bluejays' coach, Greg McDermott, who's also Doug's dad. "Doug doesn't dominate the ball and he doesn't need to," says Greg. "That's what makes his game special."
Normally easygoing, the younger McDermott gets miffed when anyone assumes that because he's a coach's son, he has been relentlessly tutored in all the little things that define his game: the mastery of the ball screen, the myriad post moves, the ability to shoot from any angle with either hand, the proprioceptive sense of where the defense lurks, the release that's so quick that the ball is often in the basket before the double team arrives. "A lot of that stuff comes natural to me," says McDermott, sitting on a carpeted wooden block in a Creighton practice gym. "It's the way I've always played: working hard early and getting easy baskets. It's what I do."
Put another way, he prepares himself for opportunities and makes the most of them when they arrive. That's how he evolved from redshirt candidate to T-shirt icon to player of the year contender in a matter of 15 months. Talk about efficiency.
Doug McDermott was born on Jan. 3, 1992, just as the starting lineup for North Dakota was being announced for its opening conference game against South Dakota State. Greg was a Fighting Sioux assistant at the time, and his son's birth and UND's 75--74 overtime victory (which Greg joined at halftime) were trumpeted in the Grand Forks Herald the next day: OH, BABY, WHAT A WIN!
Although it would be several years before Doug made basketball headlines again, he quickly grew to love his dad's sport. "He was never interested in cars or trains or Legos," says his mom, Theresa. "Ask anyone in our family—you never saw him without a ball in his hand."