by John Bauernfeind
IU Student News Bureau
ARLINGTON, Texas — After his name was called and added to a distinguished list, Doug McDermott of Creighton University walked across a stage within AT&T Stadium and took a seat behind the Oscar Robertson Trophy as the national college player of the year.
To his left sat his father and coach, Greg McDermott. To his father’s left sat Robertson, the Hall of Fame player from the University of Cincinnati who became the national player of the year in 1959 and 1960, the first two seasons the United States Basketball Writers Association presented the award.
Since 1998, when the USBWA named the award after its inaugural winner, the trophy has captured the classic image of Robertson securing a rebound in midair, the ball grasped with both hands, his legs far apart, feet almost even with his hips.
McDermott, a unanimous first-team All-America selection, is becoming a consensus national player of the year. On Thursday, he received that award from the Associated Press. Later on Friday, he was named winner of the John R. Wooden Award, named for the late UCLA coach and presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
McDermott scored 3,150 points in his career, the fifth-largest total in NCAA history. He joined three other 3,000-point scorers that received national player of the year awards from the USBWA. Pete Maravich of Louisiana State, the winner in 1969 and 1970, scored 3,667 points. Lionel Simmons of LaSalle, the 1990 winner, scored 3,217. Hersey Hawkins of Bradley, the 1988 winner, scored 3,008.
“This is obviously an unbelievable honor,” McDermott said. “I’m a little too young to remember Oscar’s playing days, but I hear from my Dad and Grandpa all the time about what type of player he is, and I’ve watched film on him.
“He’s always a guy everyone looks up to.”
The official presentation will take place on April 14 at Oklahoma City. Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star, the USBWA president, described the achievements of a four-year career: 14.9 points per game as a freshman, followed by averages of 22.9, 23.2, and 26.7 points.
“When someone is an all-conference player as a freshman, and follows that up with an All-American season as a sophomore, not often do you see the progress after that,” Greg McDermott said. “It is human nature sometimes when we achieve success to be satisfied, and to Doug’s credit, he’s never been satisfied.
“He was always looking for ways to add to his game, looking for ways to improve, so that he could help his team be successful. It’s one thing to be a coach and be able to go through this with one of your players and share in the experiences and the successes that one of your players has. It’s another thing when it’s your son, so obviously I’m very proud.”
Robertson, who played in the era before freshmen were eligible for varsity competition, scored 2,973 points in three seasons, an average of 33.8 per game.
“This young man, he’s only going to get better,” Robertson said. “…He doesn’t realize it right now, but he will get a lot better, get a lot smarter on the court. I think he’s going to have terrific years of playing basketball and what he did in college, he’s going to surpass that in the pros.”