tournament Sunday, chances are
will be to blame.
Not to suggest that Barnes, a first-team All-
forward, will play poorly against the Bluejays. It’s just that any chance eighth-seeded Creighton has against the Midwest Regional’s top seed likely hinges on
, Barnes’ former teammate at Ames (Iowa) High School.
A sophomore like Barnes, McDermott is a first-team All-American, and the nation’s No. 3 scorer at 23.0 points per game.
“Harrison's responsible for a lot of Doug's development,” Greg McDermott, Doug’s father and Creighton’s coach, said Saturday. “Because Doug saw in Harrison a guy with an unbelievable work ethic. And when other high school-aged students were going to movies and going to football games and going to the prom, Harrison was working out.
“And I really believe that Doug saw in Harrison a guy that he wanted to emulate and saw the improvement and said, ‘You know what? I think that I now know what it takes.’ He could listen to his dad and his high school coach, but when you see it in Harrison, the improvement he made each year of high school because of his work ethic, it was certainly impactful for Doug.”
Barnes and McDermott, who text and speak often, led Ames to consecutive state championships and a 53-game winning streak their final two seasons. As seniors, Barnes averaged 27.1 points and 10.4 rebounds, McDermott 20.1 and 7.8. In the state title victory, McDermott (21) and Barnes (19) scored 40 of the team’s 47 points.
But the pecking order was clear. Barnes was the national player of the year, a prospect who attracted the college game’s marquee coaches to Ames. McDermott was undersized, an intriguing prospect who his father, then at Iowa State, declined to recruit.
McDermott, however, had one thing Barnes did not: a driver’s license. So Barnes spent many a day riding shotgun in McDermott’s Nissan Murano, often traveling to Iowa State for pickup games against the college crew. McDermott also transported Barnes to choir and band practices – Barnes plays saxophone.
“I just remember going to our senior year, he would be at the gym at probably 6 a.m., lifting and then getting shots up afterwards,” McDermott said of Barnes. “So that's something our whole team kind of looked up to him. … He was just a great leader all the way through, throughout high school. And it's pretty cool to see how far he's come.”
The two took on markedly different roles in college: McDermott is Creighton’s hub, while Barnes shares top billing at North Carolina with fellow high school All-Americans such as ACC player of the year
The 6-foot-8 Barnes plays primarily on the wing, the 6-7 McDermott more on the interior. So don’t expect them to match up frequently. But there will be moments, through switches or lineup changes, when they’re eye-to-eye.
“His growth has been tremendous,” Barnes said of McDermott, “just having the ability to go to Creighton, go to a system where he's able to grow and develop. And now everyone's starting to see that, see his efficiency magnified, and see him get the shots he needs and the right location he needs them in, and it's been great. And as a former teammate, it's been fun to watch.”
With Barnes, McDermott and point guard Bubu Palo, now at Iowa State, Ames was quite the high school basketball Mecca.
“Just everywhere we went people were giving us their best shot and each place was packed, sold out, so it was a blast,” McDermott said. “I'll never forget those days.”
With Barnes likely headed to the
after this season, Sunday figures to be the only time McDermott and Barnes clash as collegians.
“He's probably looking at a lottery pick this year, and I think that I'll be here awhile,” McDermott said. “So we're in completely different positions. But I'm really happy for him and how far he's come and what he's going to be able to accomplish in the NBA.”
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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