I’d like to turn Doug McDermott into a superstar.
The kind of character that college basketball fans fall in love with each season. The type of young man who gets shout-outs from rap stars on Twitter. A player whom the cameras always monitor because you never know when he’s going to explode, athletically or emotionally.
Maybe they’d start calling him Dougie B-Ball, America’s idol.
It shouldn’t be too hard to make the switch. He certainly has the potential. Just needs a little edginess.
Here’s a 6-foot-8 forward who hit nearly half of his 3-pointers last season, when he was second in the nation with a 23.2 PPG average.
On Monday, McDermott scored 37 points -- seven shy of his career-high -- in the first 28 minutes of Creighton’s 96-70 win over UMKC on Monday. He went 15-for-25 from the field, 5-for-10 from the 3-point line.
Sure, he’ll get a "SportsCenter" plug from that effort. Not much else.
McDermott just doesn’t have the persona that will elevate his national profile. He’s a nice kid who lives in Omaha, Neb. And he’s committed the ultimate sin in college basketball: consistency. There’s nothing sexy about that.
He has been embarrassing opponents at all levels for the past three seasons. He even came back for his senior season so he could showcase his skills in the new Big East.
If he has another Doug McDermott-like campaign this season, he might end his career with a national player of the year trophy and a third consecutive first-team All-American honor from The Associated Press. If he achieves the latter, he’d be the first three-time first-team AP All-American since a few guys named Patrick Ewing and Wayman Tisdale did it 30 years ago.
An exclusive club.
Perhaps this will be the season that McDermott receives the credit he deserves for compiling one of the most impressive runs in college basketball history.
The young crop of talent has certainly overshadowed McDermott to date.
Marcus Smart could have been a top-three pick but he returned to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. John Calipari basically recruited the Boston Celtics. Kentucky’s six McDonald’s All-Americans occupy their own orbit within college basketball’s galaxy.
It’s not McDermott’s fault that this season boasts one of the greatest freshman classes in NCAA history. But that fact makes him easier to overlook in the conversation for national player of the year.
He’s not as athletic as some of the 18- and 19-year-olds who just arrived. He’s not as flashy or dazzling, either.
But that’s not the only thing holding him back from superstardom.
McDermott is a bit ordinary.
I spent some time with him in New York City during Big East media day last month. You wouldn’t believe how he conducted himself during interviews. He was so professional and mature about everything. He didn’t call Georgetown out or say that Creighton would “wipe the floor” with Marquette. He didn’t say that this season is about “my legacy” or “my team” or “my money.”
He wasn’t suspended indefinitely prior to the season. No off-court mischief, which is always easier to avoid when the head coach (Greg McDermott, his father) can legally take your car keys.
So he’s not as interesting as some of the controversial figures who dominated the airwaves and headlines throughout the offseason.
Maybe a little drama -- an NCAA scandal, maybe -- would have helped him garner more national recognition for his accomplishments. More magazine covers. More photo shoots.
McDermott has always maintained a low profile. That’s the way he wants it. Trust me. He doesn’t seek exposure.
But he deserves more of it.
That thing he did on Monday? That was just Doug McDermott being Doug McDermott. Putting up 37 points against an overwhelmed team is not that extraordinary for him.
He’ll do the same against better squads in the Big East. Doesn’t matter whom you put in front of him.
It will always be difficult to stop a 6-8 forward who hits 50 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Yet it’s still possible that McDermott will be undermined in the final discussions about the game’s best players this season.
If only he’d pop his collar more often or tweet criticism about his coach or put the ball between his legs every now and then, maybe he’d become more relevant nationally.
Instead, he’ll just be the high-scoring standout for a Jesuit school in Omaha. Again.
And I know that’s OK with McDermott.
But it’s unfortunate for the rest of us.
McDermott is the kind of player who won’t really be cherished until we’re still waiting for someone to equal his four-year tenure 30 years or so from now.