On Friday night, good friend and Wartburg alum, and the host of IPTV’s “The Iowa Journal”, Paul Yeager and I ventured to Ames High to watch the top ranked Little Cyclones host the Mason City Mohawks. Paul was filming some shots of the game for a future piece he’s working on and I got to tag along.
It’s common knowledge by now that Ames is undefeated in Class 4-A boys hoops and one of the main reasons is a young man by the name of Harrison Barnes. Barnes, who will attend North Carolina next season, was deemed the #1 high school recruit in the nation. This team is more than Barnes. Basketball has been and always will be a team sport. A star player and his four other teammates on the floor have to work together if they want to be successful.
My hack observation of Ames: with the exception of their point guard Michael Weber (6’1″), the rest of the starters are 6’4″ and taller (James Kohler and Barnes are 6’8″, Doug McDermott is 6’7″, Riley Struve and Kyle Rodgers are 6’4″). What makes this team tick is that they can run the floor on offense and create shots. Mason City tried to slow the ball down, Ames stepped into the Mohawks’ passing lanes and intercepted the pass. Mason City tried to play up to the Little Cyclones’ speed, and that attempt was fruitless.
Early in the game, Paul asked me a question.
“Who do you think will be a starter in college next year? Barnes or McDermott?”
Without batting an eye, I said “McDermott.” He agreed.
Granted, all eyes are on Barnes, but think about this: who is more ready to play college basketball? Who has the skills that is made to play right away in college? Which player has a dad who’s a coach?
Doug McDermott is the answer to each of those three questions. McDermott is fluid and plays effortlessly on the floor. He’s also not afraid to go down in the lane and rebound and make put-back baskets. In the 4th quarter, as the game was already decided by halftime, McDermott put on a clinic on the glass and scoring down low. He finished with 30 points, 3 more than Barnes, and coach Vance Downs took Barnes out of the game with about 5:30 left in the 4th quarter.
Doug McDermott, to me, is the MVP of this team. He was that last season and he continues to be the MVP this year. UNI is a perfect fit for him, as he will head up to Cedar Falls next year.
Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Karl Malone had John Stockton. Dan Fouts had Kellen Winslow. The main idea is that any team can have a superstar player and they rely on them to help the team win. But, what gets overlooked, is the second banana who doesn’t mind taking the lesser role and less attention. It helps them focus on what they do best for their team.
In return, they end up being the most valuable player of the team.