Doug McDermott is once in a century type of player, especially for a -- let's be honest -- mid-level team like the Creighton Bluejays. Therefore, there is no one player on next season's squad that will produce enough to singlehandedly make fans forget about him. It will be a team effort. One of the players leading this effort will be senior guard, Devin Brooks.
Last season, the Harlem, New York native averaged 16.6 minutes per game, coming in reserve behind senior Jahenns Manigat and junior Austin Chatman. Now, with Manigat in the post-graduation real world, Brooks must step into a starting role, in a season in which the Bluejay guard play will be of the utmost importance.
With McDermott and fellow big man Ethan Wragge gone, the two leading returning scorers are Chatman and Brooks, who both are in the backcourt. That means the combo must shoulder a heavier load than ever before.
Brooks averaged only a shade over 6.5 points in his reserve role during the 2013-14 season, but you cannot read too much into that stat. For one, it is not exactly easy to produce offensively when Doug McDermott averages over 16 shots and 26 points per game throughout the season. Secondly, Brooks was the only player without the last name of McDermott to account for greater than 28 percent of possessions used a season ago (29.1 percent).
Despite the relatively low scoring average, Brooks did, at times, show flashes of scoring ability. He got into double figures in eight games last season, most notably against the Arizona State Sun Devils on November 28, 2013 when he put up a career-high 23 points.
But at the same time, there were games where he looked like there was no chance that the JUCO transfer could produce on a regular basis. The biggest stage that his inability showed, and really for the entire team, was against the Baylor Bears in the 3rd Round of the NCAA Tournament. In that game, McDermott was held to just 15 points, as the Bears tried to force the ball out of his hands. The strategy worked, and the rest of the team struggled in an 85-55 loss. Brooks was not immune from this inability to score, as he shot 16.7 percent (1-6 FG) and scored only two points.
Baylor was not the only game either where Brooks looked shaky. He failed to score a single point in four of his final 10 games. Additionally, over that stretch he never reached double figures. Much of this has to do with how inefficient of a scorer Brooks was. While shooting 44 percent from the field, he shot 28 percent from behind 3-point range. Now, he did average less than one 3-point attempt per game, but there is still no excuse to shoot that poorly from the perimeter.
Without McDermott next season, Creighton needs to get everyone involved with a ton of ball movement and spacing, so if one of the guards cannot consistently shoot long balls, then it makes defensive scheming that much easier for opposing teams. Brooks shot only 69.7 percent from the free throw line as well, which is not acceptable from a starting Division 1 guard.
Now, regardless of who starts for Creighton next season, expect for the team to take a giant step back in the first season without Dougie McBuckets. Much of who actually does start will depend on who can offer head coach Greg McDermott the necessary scoring to help make the graduation of his son a little less painful. Therefore, Brooks will greatly need to improve his shooting ability and become a more diverse and dependable scorer in order to earn and keep a spot in next season's starting lineup.