When Doug McDermott prepared to leave Kazan, Russia after representing the United States in the World University Games, he planned for a little rest and recuperation upon his return home, but that was before another opportunity was presented.
While the senior-to-be was thinking about some time on the couch, B.J. Johnson, the assistant director of the men’s national team, had other plans. Johnson offered McDermott a spot in the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas, which runs from July 21-24, an opportunity McDermott could not refuse.
“I didn’t find out until the end of the trip,” said McDermott. “B.J., the USA guy, just kind of came up to me and asked me about it, and I was like ‘Well, yeah, sure, if it’s there.’ So, it will be cool. I wanted to get some rest when I get back, but this could be a great alternative for that.”
This opportunity doesn’t take the two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year across the ocean, but it does give him the opportunity to compete with some of the best young, American basketball players. McDermott and Marcus Smart, a rising sophomore at Oklahoma State who would have been near the top of this year’s draft, had he entered, are the only two collegiate players invited. Among the other invitees are 2013 NBA All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Paul George. The rest of the camp roster is composed of young NBA talents on the verge of stardom, which can be a little daunting, even for a player with a career as decorated as McDermott.
“Yeah, I mean, a little bit,” McDermott admitted when asked if his upcoming challenge was at all intimidating. “It’s going to be a little shocking the first time, playing against guys who I watch on TNT and hear Charles Barkley talking about.
There will, however, be one friendly face in attendance. Among the invitees is one of McDermott’s high school teammates, Harrison Barnes. Barnes, who was drafted with the seventh overall pick by the Golden State Warriors a year ago, enjoyed a successful rookie campaign, which took him to the NBA playoffs. McDermott is looking forward to seeing and competing against his former classmate once again, following their meeting in the 2012 NCAA tournament, when Barnes and the North Carolina Tarheels eliminated Creighton.
“Having Harrison there, another high school teammate of mine, that will be really special,” said McDermott. “We’ve both come a long ways. He’s had a good career, and I’m trying to follow his path. So, it’s a really special honor for Ames High School, but I’m not going to back down from that competition. I’m looking forward to going head-to-head against him.”
Irving, George and Barnes are just three of the 28 players with NBA experience in the camp. It will certainly be one of the greater opportunities and challenges of McDermott’s young career.
“It’s going to be crazy. I’ve never really had the opportunity to do something like this, quite this extreme. So, I mean, it will be a great experience, you know. There are some great players on that roster who have done some really good things in the NBA, not just college. So, I’m going to have to be ready for it, and play my tail off,” said McDermott.