Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Former Teammates Barnes, McDermott Could Meet in NCAAs
When Ames (Iowa) High School coach Vance Downs first saw the NCAA tournament bracket, his initial reaction was, “I thought Creighton would be a little higher than that.”
Creighton (28-5) was given the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region and could face No. 1 North Carolina (29-5) in the third round if the Bluejays can get past a tough No. 9 Alabama (21-11) in the second round Friday.
If they do, that would set up a reunion between arguably the two best players ever to come out of Downs’s program: North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes and Creighton sophomore Doug McDermott, who on Monday was named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-American First Team.
“If the game happens, then I’ll probably go,” Downs told SNY.tv, referring to the Greensboro, N.C. site. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
McDermott and Barnes were teammates for two years on the Ames High School team that won 53 straight games and back-to-back Iowa Class 4A state titles.
“Doug was more of a stretch four and Harrison was more of a two/three man,” Downs said. “And as far as playing together, we spent a lot of time isolating the court with just those two. And they played extremely well together, especially in the pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop game.”
While Barnes was among the top players in the Class of 2010, McDermott matured late as a player went more under the radar.
“He developed late [in college],” Downs said of McDermott. “That’s kind of the way it worked in high school, too.”
Still, Downs said Barnes and McDermott were the two best players he’s ever coached.
“We’ve had some good ones, but these two were exceptional,” Downs said. “You’re probably not going to see something like that again.”
Few would have predicted that McDermott, not Barnes, would land on the USBWA All-America team, but the Creighton star ranks third nationally at 23.2 points per game and seventh with a 61.0 shooting percentage. He was named the Missouri Valley Player of the Year and is Creighton’s first USBWA All-America since the awards were first handed out in 1957.
Barnes was named First-Team All-ACC after averaging 17.4 points and 5.2 boards for the Tar Heels.
McDermott, whose father, Doug Sr., is the Creighton coach, said he was “shocked” when he saw Creighton was a No. 8 seed, but he’s excited about the possibility of playing against Barnes.
“It’s going to be a good chance to see him again,” he said. “I haven’t seen him in a while. I talk to him quite a bit. It’ll be fun to watch him play and hopefully match up with him.”
(The AP contributed; Photo: SouthwestIowaNews.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.