Indiana. The State of Basketball. Hoops Heaven.
When it comes to basketball, the state of Indiana is its most prominent flag bearer. For decades, and perhaps since the arrival of the sport to the United States of America, few other places have exemplified and personified their love and admiration for the game more than The Hoosier State. If you take even the slightest glimpse at the colleges in the state, you will likely find a rich history with the sport.
Indiana has its Hoosiers, its most prized possession with a crimson and cream zeal and a golden legacy. Then there are the Boilermakers, the Sycamores, the Fighting Irish and Crusaders. Indiana also has its beloved Butler Bulldogs, once known as "The Little Engine That Could." Everyone remembers just how close Gordon Hayward was to splashing down with what would have been the greatest moment in NCAA Tournament history. Michael Jordan's epic shot in '82, Villanova's shocking upset of Georgetown and Christian Laettner's shot in Philadelphia would have paled in comparison to Hayward's heave that came inches away to immortality.
As Butler embarks on its third season as a member of the Big East Conference, they look to advance past just being a team known for its underdog style and turn into a full-fledged juggernaut. Armed with Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, the 'Dawgs stand a good chance to return to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. One added piece to the puzzle that could serve as a building block is Class of 2015 recruit and Hoosier State native, Sean McDermott.
It was May 30, 2014. Butler, just days after landing Nathan Fowler as their first commit to the 2015 class, picked up a commitment from McDermott. A 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Pendleton, Indiana, McDermott checks in the Top 100 at his position amongst the class of 2015 and ranks 17th in the state of Indiana. That puts him in the neighborhood of the likes of Grant Weatherford (Purdue commit, No. 20), Munis Tutu (Loyola Marymount, No. 19), Bronson Kessinger (Indiana State, No. 16) and Providence Friars commit Ryan Fazekas (No. 18). All things considered, it's pretty good company to be around.
But before landing on campus, and before joining that heralded company, McDermott dealt with a moment of peril and adversity. As Vype.com entails, the Pendleton Heights alum had quite a scare:
On Nov. 15, 2013, McDermott went through the usual Friday practice and again on Saturday, but after practice he began to feel very cold. His parents, thinking he may have been dehydrated or getting the flu, took him the emergency room for treatment. Afterward, though, McDermott began having pain in his knees that spread to his hips and shoulders. They returned to the ER and doctors drew blood for testing.
McDermott was in a tremendous amount of pain, and initially doctors treated it as an infection, but consulted with Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.McDermott's parents were told their son could have a life-threatening disease and should be transported to Riley. Doctors began ruling out a list of possibilities that included Leukemia, cancer and heart and bone disease. They finally determined that he had an extreme staph infection.
As the article entails, McDermott spent a tumultuous six weeks in the hospital recovering (Vype, 2014) and healing up from this staph infection. He would make his triumphant return to Pendleton Heights in January, and did so in grand fashion:
In a regular-season game against Pike High School on Jan. 4, Pendleton Heights' junior Sean McDermott received a standing ovation, and he had yet to score a point.
The game marked McDermott's return to the basketball court since suffering a devastating staph infection in November. It signified the end to a long and frightening journey. It meant normalcy had reappeared, and the crowd couldn't help but show their support."That was my first game back. It felt so good being out there with my teammates," McDermott said.
Upon returning from that injury, McDermott balled at a very high level. During the season, he averaged 14.6 points per game, which was complemented by a 34.0 percent mark from the 3-point line. Whilst playing for the Grassroots Indiana Basketball Program the ensuing summer, Sean scored 16.0 points per game and upped his average from 34.0 to 43.0 percent from beyond the arc (Stats from WTHR13). As a senior, McDermott maintained that scoring average he picked up during the summer in the 24 games he played for Pendleton Heights. In 724 minutes accumulated, he scored 385 points, averaged 6.6 rebounds and picked up 1.3 steals per game while only averaging 1.6 turnovers (Stats via MaxPreps).
The range that he can display at times will no doubt be something that head coach Chris Holtmann will adore at some point in McDermott's career as a Bulldog. If we are to believe that trends are to continue, Sean's shooting numbers may not have even neared the glass ceiling yet.
This fall, alongside Nathan Fowler, Sean McDermott will look to build upon the already established position that Butler has constructed. With any luck, not only will McDermott become an integral piece to the Bulldogs puzzle, but will also add another name to Indiana's revered basketball history.