McDermott ready for the next level

Doug McDermott appears ready for the step up in competition he'll face in the new Big East. John S. Peterson/Icon SMI

LAS VEGAS -- Doug McDermott was admittedly nervous. When he walked into the gym Monday morning alongside 26 of the top young players in the NBA, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

There were questions whether the Creighton Bluejays star forward could thrive in his transition next season from the Missouri Valley to the new Big East, where he'll generally face tougher competition and more athletic defenders. Now he was set to go up against guys like Chandler Parsons, DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

This could have been a train wreck.

“These are guys I’ve been watching and have looked up to,” McDermott said. “There were definitely nerves, but I made my first shot, held my own on defense and felt I did well.”

Those in attendance were in agreement. One NBA executive said McDermott “helped himself significantly” with his play in the Team USA Minicamp, and another said he was arguably the best shooter in the gym over the first two days. Sure, there are doubts about his ability to defend athletic wings at the next level, but McDermott can make shots, is extremely smart and moves well without the ball. That's good news for both McDermott and Creighton as the Bluejays transition to a league that figures to have a wide-open title race in its debut season.