Creighton's Doug McDermott joined another select basketball fraternity Tuesday in winning his second straight Missouri Valley player of the year award.
The 6-foot-8 junior became the eighth player to win back-to-back awards. The list of two-time winners includes Larry Bird, Xavier McDaniel, Hersey Hawkins and former Bluejay star Kyle Korver.
McDermott came within one vote of being a unanimous selection in the balloting done by the league's coaches, sports information directors, radio play-by-play announcers and newspaper's beat writers. He received 35 of the 36 first-place votes he was eligible to receive — voters could not select players from the team in which they are associated.
Evansville's Colt Ryan was second in the voting and Jackie Carmichael of Illinois State third.
McDermott is leading the Valley in scoring for the second straight season in helping the Bluejays win their first outright regular-season championship since 2001. He should break Creighton's all-time scoring record of 2,116 points in Friday's quarterfinal game of the league tournament in St. Louis.
He was the only Bluejay named to the league's all-conference team, although teammates Gregory Echenique and Grant Gibbs were honorable mention.
Echenique also earned a spot on the league's all-defense team for the third straight season, while Ethan Wragge won sixth man of the year honors.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said his son's teammates have figured greatly into his success.
“A player doesn't achieve what Doug has unless he's playing on a good team,'' the coach said. “That's certainly has been the case. We have a great group, and they understand what Doug brings to the table.
“They've been very willing to get him the ball where he can be successful. And, from my perspective, they've made it as easy as possible for Doug to deal with the attention that he has received. That could cut into the core of your team if you don't have the right group of guys.''
Greg McDermott said he's never had to address with his players how to deal with the situation.
“Doug, in the locker room, is just one of the guys,'' he said. “That's the way I'd prefer it to be and I know that is how he would prefer it to be.''
On the court, McDermott's talents have separated him from all but a select group of players that have performed in the Valley's 105-year history. Last season, he became the first sophomore to win the player of the year award since the league started handing it out in 1969.
He is just the 42nd player to earn first-team all-conference honors three times, and will have a chance to join Wichita State's Cleo Littleton as the only four-time honoree if he returns to Creighton for his senior season.
One thing that has characterized McDermott during his three seasons as a Bluejay is a drive to expand his game.
|Click here to view a photo showcase highlighting McDermott's second MVC player-of-the-year season.|
“The most impressive thing from my standpoint is what Doug has been able to add to his game from a year ago,'' Greg McDermott said. “He's been player of the year two years in a row, but he's a better player this year than he was last year.
“That's a credit to him and how hard he's worked to develop his game.''
Primarily a low-block and 3-point scorer as a freshman and sophomore, McDermott has added a mid-range game to his repertoire this season.
“His ability to handle the ball and get into creases is better than it was a year ago,'' Greg McDermott said. “After starting out slow in rebounding the ball, he's had a good four-to-six weeks here. His assists-to-turnovers numbers are better in comparison to what they were a year ago.
“He's made some strides. How often does one of the better players in the country make those kind of increases in skill level in a year's time? That's hard to do.''
McDermott said his son once was motivated by the desire to prove he was good enough to play at the Division I level. Now, it's the high expectations that have been placed upon him that drive him.
“He once was motivated to prove he belonged,'' Greg said. “Now, it's like he flipped a switch and said there is a lot expected of me so I better prepare myself. He's been able to use that as motivation because no one has doubted him for the last year or so.''
Contact the writer:
402-679-2298, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/PivOWH