Greg McDermott had it easy recruiting his son, Doug. The stringent NCAA allowed the Creighton head coach to bestow Doug McDermott with birthday and Christmas gifts and chat with him during so-called “dead periods.’’
“I was able to do anything a normal father could do,’’ Greg McDermott told The Post.
Greg McDermott, starting his eighth season at Creighton, would not comment on the NCAA corruption scandal, but was thrilled to reflect on coaching his son for four years as the Omaha, Neb. school evolved from mid-major power to Big East contender.
Doug McDermott, the 6-foot-8 sweet-shooting forward, was a consensus national college player of the year for the Bluejays, leading the nation in scoring as a senior (26.7 ppg).
McDermott, 25, is now with the Knicks – part of the youth-based Carmelo Anthony haul from the Thunder.
“It was pretty incredible,’’ Greg McDermott told The Post. “I wish every father could have that experience with his son. Looking back, we’ll both appreciate it more one day. You wish you could’ve smelled the roses more when you’re going through the grind. But it was a special time in my life.”
McDermott says their relationship improved since his son left for the NBA, but it hasn’t been all roses for Doug since graduation.
Jeff Hornacek becomes McDermott’s fourth NBA coach in four seasons. The father thinks Hornacek may be the one. The McDermotts and Hornacek already share a connection.
Plus, Greg McDermott points out his son likes the Garden’s rims. Doug set a Big East tournament record scoring 27 first-half points against DePaul as a senior in 2014 on the way to a 35-point explosion. When Creighton was back in the Missouri Valley, McDermott had his share of wars with former Wichita State star and current Knicks guard Ron Baker.
“He’s had some great games in the Big East tournament,’’ Greg McDermott said. “He knows it’s a special place.’’
Hornacek is very familiar with the family. Greg McDermott was previously head coach at Hornacek’s alma-mater, Iowa State.
“We had numerous conversations naturally, he’s one of the best player ever at Iowa State,’’ the Creighton coach said.
When Doug McDermott readied for the draft, after making a hard decision to stay for his senior year, one of his best pre-draft workouts came in Phoenix with Hornacek.
“Doug has always been impressed with coach Hornacek,’’ Greg said. “When coming out of college, he was really impressed with him and the way (Phoenix) played and is excited about that. It certainly helps feeling comfortable with him and having a coach in his corner.”
“I’m excited to play in the system,’’ Doug McDermott said this week. “I’ve known Coach Hornacek for a long time, working out in Phoenix. So I’m kind of familiar with what he’s trying to do out there.’’
Hornacek told The Post he recalls McDermott having an excellent workout, especially shooting. But that’s the rub. When former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau lobbied to move up in the draft to get McDermott (he traded two first-rounders to launch into the 11th spot) , he saw a “complete player,’’ not just a shooter. McDermott’s first three seasons have been marred by defensive shortcomings – at both forward slots. That led the Bulls to trade McDermott at the trade deadline in February to Oklahoma City.
“I played him at the 4 in college,’’ Greg said. “I didn’t want him against the faster 3’s. He was such a good scorer, I didn’t want him in foul trouble so he wasn’t against the other team’s top forward. He understands defense. He understands he’s got to improve.’’
“That’s something I’ve been working on,’’ Doug said. “Trying to become a lot better team defender to help out and get more time on the floor.’’
Greg McDermott felt an ankle injury as a rookie that kept his son out six weeks hurt his defensive development in Thibodeau’s complex system. With the Thunder, his playing time became marginal, having a tough time adjusting midstream. When Doug talked about leaders who’ve helped him grow, he mentioned Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade — not Russell Westbrook.
“It happened 15 minutes before the deadline right down to the wire,’’ his father said. “It was a difficult going into situation where you have to learn things on the fly. Not only does the player have to learn the system and style, the coach has to learn about a player’s strengths and how best be utilized. It’s a hard to do at the end of February. He enjoyed playing with Russ but views this as a great opportunity . being in New York, a great city, being an important part of laying down a foundation of a team.’’
Greg McDermott had always planned to make the six-hour drive from Nebraska for the Oct. 19 season opener in Oklahoma City between the Thunder and the Knicks. He just didn’t expect his son to be in a road jersey.
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