doug mcdermott

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

College basketball’s best player this season could be a walk-on.

That’s the fate Creighton’s Doug McDermott chose after he gave up his scholarship so that sixth-year senior and close friend Grant Gibbs could have a spot on the team.

McDermott was traveling with Team USA in the World University Games when he heard that the NCAA allowed Gibbs, who has suffered through knee injuries in college, another year of eligibility.

“I was in an airport super exhausted,” McDermott says, “but when I heard that news, I was ready to go.”

The three-time All-American could just be college basketball’s greatest walk-on ever. Last season, McDermott averaged 23.1 points per game for the Bluejays—the second best in Division I.

This season he’ll get to test his chops in the Big East, and although Creighton is making its debut in the storied league, McDermott is likely to become its pre-season player of the year.

“I was kind of under the radar the last two years,” McDermott says. “It will be a big adjustment.”

Helping him make that adjustment will be his father Greg, who is also the head coach at Creighton. As the son of a coach, Doug has been learning the game since his first breath.

“I’ve pretty much had a ball in my hands ever since I was born,” Doug says.

And while his dad can seem like he’s on top of him more than other players (Greg essentially made the choice to take Doug off scholarship), the leading scorer in Creighton basketball history recognizes how special these four years are.

“The best part probably isn’t right now,” Doug says. “It will be 10 years down the road to look back and say I did it.”