They’ll take the court on opposite sides today – Barnes for North Carolina, McDermott for Creighton – with a trip to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16 at stake.
“It’s crazy how far both of us have come,” McDermott said Saturday. “I would’ve never guessed we’d be playing against each other on such a big stage.”
Nor would most people have guessed in the preseason that it would be McDermott, not Barnes, capturing the most attention as a prolific scorer driving his team’s attack.
Barnes said he noticed the possible matchup with his former Ames High School teammate as soon as the NCAA brackets were released.
“I think probably the state of Iowa will all watch,” Barnes quipped.
McDermott, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, is averaging 23 points and eight rebounds per game for the eighth-seeded Bluejays (29-5). He’s an All-America candidate who helped the Missouri Valley Conference program to its first NCAA tournament victory in 10 years on Friday against Alabama.
McDermott paces a potent offense that averages 79 points and leads the country in shooting at 50.7 percent.
Barnes, a 6-8 sophomore, is leading the top-seeded Tar Heels (30-5) in scoring at 17 per game. But he hasn’t been the always-dominant player that many expected when he arrived in Chapel Hill, often content to blend in with talented teammates such as Tyler Zeller and John Henson.
McDermott and Barnes said they kept in contact all season, primarily through text messages.
McDermott teamed with Barnes to help Ames go 53-0 and win two state titles in their last two years together.