For some, including Ben McLemore of Kansas, Anthony Bennett of UNLV, Cody Zeller, and Victor Oladipo of Indiana, the decision is easy. You’re a surefire Top-15 pick. You forgo your remaining years of college ball, declare for the draft, and simply wait to become a multi-millionaire. For a player like McDermott, the decision is a bit more complicated.
The Bluejay junior has virtually zero chance at being selected in the draft’s lottery – the first 14 picks usually reserved for expected future all-stars or players with tremendous upside. Most current mock drafts place the two-time All-American somewhere late in the first or early second round. Kristofer Habbas, of nbadraftinsider.com, believes that the best-case scenario for McDermott, which includes some players unexpectedly withdrawing for the draft and returning to school, would have the Bluejay drafted between picks 20 and 30. Habbas added that a more probable destination for McDermott to be drafted would be somewhere in the middle of the second round, but these projections change depending on which players end up deciding to enter the draft, and who impresses scouts late in the season or in pre-draft workouts.
For instance, had Michigan’s Mitch McGary announced his intention to go pro a few weeks ago, he would have been called a fool by many, but after a stellar NCAA tournament performance, he has worked his way into a position where some would call him unwise for returning to Ann Arbor.
The difference between being pick 30, the last of the first round, and 31, the first of the second round, is larger than it seems. First-round picks have a guaranteed contract for two seasons, and team options to extend the contract for years three and four, however, second round picks aren’t guaranteed anything. It’s a risky decision that requires hours, possibly even days, of thought for any college prospect projected outside the lottery, but for McDermott there are even more variables to consider.
McDermott plays for his father, Greg. The two genuinely seem to enjoy the experience of working together, aside from the occasional in-game spat. The elder McDermott has joked about leading the chants of “One More Year,” which became increasingly audible towards the end of last season. The return of the son would certainly help his father’s program transition into the Big East with a little more firepower.
A season in the new conference would affect McDermott’s draft stock one way or another. According to Habbas, a stellar senior year against superior competition could push McDermott into the middle of the first round of the 2014 draft, which has more elite prospects, but not necessarily the depth of the expected 2013 class. Habbas also stated that short of a catastrophic injury, McDermott’s body of work would almost assuredly keep him in the top 50 picks of the draft even if he struggles in the Big East without the help of departing starters Grant Gibbs and Gregory Echenique.
It seems most likely that McDermott will take as much time as the NCAA allows before announcing his decision. The reason for this is to get a better idea of what other players in similar positions are doing. If guys like McGary, James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina), Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga), and C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State) decide to leave school, that lowers McDermott’s chance of going in the first round, whereas a couple of those players deciding to stay in school would make it more likely McDermott gets a guaranteed contract.
Possibly the best news for McDermott is that it doesn’t seem like there is a bad choice, especially considering McDermott doesn’t need to worry about the financial ramifications of leaving at the wrong time for his family’s well-being.
Ultimately, it should come down to what the Bluejays’ all-time leading scorer desires. If he wants to guarantee that he will play in the NBA, leaving now is the easiest way to make that happen, even if it means working his tail off for 5-10 minutes of playing time per game. If he leaves, the Creighton community should be grateful for his superb three-year career, which when you look at the accomplishments, reads more like the résumé of a four-year player. One the other hand, if another season living as legend and leading Creighton into the Big East sounds more enjoyable, that option is available. If he decides to stay, the university might as well retire his number at the “Senior Day” ceremony.
Not a bad position to be in considering had you presented him with this scenario while he was at Ames High, he would have likely laughed and thought the question was meant for teammate Harrison Barnes.