Doug McDermott, Ray McCallum and special cases

When a freshman steps right into a major role on a college basketball team chances are there were some special circumstances. That player is probably extremely talented and worthy of some buzz. If it happens at somewhere like Creighton or Detroit, certainly not the land of one-and-dones, it’s even more special.

For Doug McDermott and Ray McCallum there were some extenuating circumstances, for one their dads happened to coach their teams, but by the end of the season they both deserved the minutes and accolades they received.

That’s why when Drew Cannon put out his Top 100 list both McDermott (#66) and McCallum (#48) were on the list. They are special circumstances, but both players prove the rule that top tier talent exists outside of the BCS Conferences. (Much to Dan Wolken’s disbelief.)

Both players had special seasons and many of their comparisons show wisdom well beyond their age. But let’s limit it to just players in their true freshman seasons. Who were their best comparisons? You just might recognize these names.

Doug McDermott’s best true freshman comparison is… Adam Morrison. Yup, Morrison’s 2003-04 season is McDermott’s 17th closest comparison and the first by a true freshman. That season Morrison was named to the WCC All-Freshman team and I’m pretty sure you know what happened afterwards. It’s quite the legacy to live up to.

Ray McCallum’s comparison is just as impressive… Derrick Rose. Yes, Rose played one season at Memphis and it was a doozy. He was a Third Team All-American and the #1 pick in the next NBA Draft. It’s McCallum’s 14th best comparison. Expectations though should be tempered a bit as there are a few other freshman seasons that follow closely behind including J.R. Blount’s 2005-06 season at Loyola (Ill.) and Evan Roquemore’s recently completed campaign at Santa Clara.

Still, the future is obviously bright for McDermott and McCallum. The level that both players were able to play at as freshman while being the main drivers of their teams’ offenses was remarkable. While using 26.2% of the Blue Jays’ possessions while he was on the court McDermott put up a 109.5 Offensive Rating. McCallum wasn’t much worse at 108.9 on 23.3% of possessions. That’s not a production level or workload that you can fake.

Top 10 Comparisons for McDermott no matter eligibility:

  1. Arnaud Dahi, So., Old Dominion, 2005, 1.49
  2. Benito Flores, Jr., Green Bay, 2005, 1.52
  3. Paul Marigney, Jr., St. Mary’s, 2004, 1.93
  4. Kenny Lawson Jr., Sr., Creighton, 2011, 2.00
  5. Darrell Tucker, Sr., San Francisco, 2003, 2.03
  6. Danny Sumner, So., William & Mary, 2008, 2.15
  7. Daniel Kickert, So., St. Mary’s, 2004, 2.16
  8. Dan Oppland, Sr., Valparaiso, 2006, 2.17
  9. Jasper Johnson, So., Southern Miss, 2004, 2.22
  10. Steven Smith, So., LaSalle, 2004, 2.28

Top 10 Comparisons for McCallum no matter eligibility:

  1. Marvin Kilgore, Sr., UTEP, 2008, 1.94
  2. Brandon Worthy, Jr., Loyola Marymount, 2006, 1.94
  3. Brandon Johnson, So., Old Dominion, 2006, 2.14
  4. E.J. Rowland, Jr., St. Mary’s, 2004, 2.14
  5. Daon Merritt, So., Richmond, 2005, 2.19
  6. Vernard Hollins, So., Wright State, 2002, 2.26
  7. Vernon Teel, So., Loyola Marymount, 2010, 2.30
  8. Urule Igbavboa, Sr., Valparaiso, 2009, 2.41
  9. Mike Green, Sr., Butler, 2008, 2.42
  10. Paul Delaney III, Jr., UAB, 2007, 2.50
One thing I found particularly interesting about McDermott’s list was the inclusion of his teammate Lawson. Even though the two played somewhat similar games, they were able to complement each other inside and it’ll be interesting to see if that continues with Gregory Echenique taking on a larger role for Creighton this season.

Vernard Hollins is player that seems to compare closely to McCallum. (Hollins’ senior season is also McCallum’s #12 comparison.) The former Wright State guard averaged 15.1 PPG and 16.3 PPG respectively in those two seasons, but he never shot better than 29.5% from outside. If McCallum struggles his three-point shooting (31.3% last season) may be the reason why. Considering his already developed ability to get to the basket and draw fouls, if he can fix that the sky is the limit for him and the Titans this season in a wide open Horizon League.

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