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Buddies McDermott, Gibbs make Creighton offense go

Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) and Grant Gibbs (10) lead a successful senior class. (Associated Press)
Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) and Grant Gibbs (10) lead a successful senior class. (Associated Press)

OMAHA, Neb. – Grant Gibbs gives the basketball to Doug McDermott. McDermott gives Gibbs his scholarship.

It’s been a win-win for everyone at Creighton.

With Gibbs as his wingman for three years, McDermott has ascended to near the top of the NCAA’s career scoring chart. The two share an uncommon connection on the court. Off the court, they’re best buddies.

“If I’m Doug,” coach Greg McDermott said, “I’m a pretty good friend of his, too, if he passes me the ball like Grant does.”

Doug McDermott, the coach’s son, and Gibbs begin their last go-round together today when the third-seeded Bluejays (26-7) meet No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette (23-11) in the NCAA tournament in San Antonio.

“We can kind of solidify what we have kind of built here with a deep tournament run,” Gibbs said.

McDermott, the nation’s top scorer at 26.9 points a game, and Gibbs are part of a senior class that has won a Creighton four-year record 106 games.

Doug McDermott said he wouldn’t have scored his 3,105 career points, fifth-most all-time, without a lot of help from Gibbs.

A year ago, no one would have predicted they would have this season together.

McDermott planned to declare for the NBA draft before Creighton left the mid-major Missouri Valley Conference and accepted an invitation to the Big East. He came back because he wanted to test himself in a power conference.

Gibbs’ return was equally improbable. He started his career at Gonzaga in 2008, and his two years there were marred by shoulder and knee injuries. To Creighton’s surprise, the NCAA granted Gibbs’ petition for a medical hardship and a sixth year of eligibility.

Greg McDermott was in a pickle because all 13 scholarships already were allotted for 2013-14 when he found out his son and Gibbs would be back. So he shifted Doug’s scholarship to Gibbs and made Doug a walk-on – a move that has cost Greg McDermott about $44,000.

“I’m getting tired of those tuition bills,” the coach said with a laugh. “But Doug will have a job (soon). I’ll send him a bill. Everything will be good.”