INDIANAPOLIS -- The bullet-proof edge is gone. Youth can only mask reality for so long. Sean McDermott understands, better than most high school basketball players, how easily you can lose what you love.
“I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy,” he says of the illness that knocked him out of the recruiting limelight last winter. “Not knowing what was going on was very scary.”
Fear has morphed into potential. The Pendleton Heights junior shooting guard standout, fully recovered from a severe staph infection and the resulting 17-pound weight loss, now thrives for UA Grind 2015. Summer approaches, he is healthy again, and all things are possible.
And so the recruiting saga is revving up to new heights.
Illinois State and New Orleans remain his only offers, but that is likely to change. McDermott has followed a strong travel ball performance in Kansas City two weeks ago with a solid effort this weekend at the adidas May Classic in Indianapolis. He scored 15 points on Friday night and 22 points on Saturday afternoon, both at North Central High School, showing the effortless range that has earned him acclaim.
“He's really good,” UA Grind coach Jim Reamer says. “He's 6-5, 6-6, and can get any shot he wants. He's got limitless range and he puts the ball on the floor. As far as a complete player from the perimeter, he's one of the best in the state, in this class especially.”
The 175-pound McDermott needs more than shooting, of course. Getting bigger and stronger is high on his to-do list. So is improving his defense, although he's
“He's long, and a willing defender,” Reamer says. “And as he gets stronger, he'll become a quality defender. He works at it. That's the big thing.
“He understands defensive rules. He understands angles and how to contest shots and the importance of it. He gets the little detail things that make the difference between an average defender and a good one, or a good one and a great one. He's got a lot of those intangibles with him.
“And then, offensively there's not many better.”
On Saturday afternoon, McDermott proved it, hitting just about everything he shot, regardless of distance.
“You see a game like this, where he shoots well right from the gate, he's pretty much impossible to guard,” Reamer says. “You see a game like (Friday) night where he struggles from the three-point line (going 1-for-5), but he's able to get different shots and score in different ways.”
College coaches have noticed, especially after his Kansas City performance.
“Coaches say I do the things it takes to win, not just shooting,” McDermott says. “I play defense and encourage my teammates. I'm out here to win, and they see that.
“This is what (college coaches) would have seen during the high school season if I hadn't gotten sick. Some coaches still watched me during the high school season. They saw me play in Kansas, and told me how much better I looked.”
McDermott missed nine weeks and seven games in November and December because of the staph infection.
“It took its toll physically as much as just the time away,” Reamer said. “Since he took three weeks off at the end (of the high school season) to pretty much shoot and lift, he's been a whole new player.”
Added McDermott: “Once I got with my (high school) team, I started getting healthy. Everything seemed back to normal. Now I'm back to about 100 percent. My game is coming along.
“Now I'm about where I was before. I thought I was playing pretty well before I got sick. The whole high school season was about trying to catch up, which wasn't fun. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, to miss the time I did. It was hard to deal with.”
The dealing got easier with his selection to the Indiana Junior All-Star team.
“I got honored despite not having a good high school season,” he says. “That was nice.”
As far as recruiting, schools such as Indiana, Purdue and Butler have stayed in contact. He's set to visit Purdue on Monday and Butler on Tuesday. He's been in steady contact with IU associate head coach Tim Buckley, heard from Hoosier head coach Tom Crean last week and is set to visit Bloomington in the near future.
New interest has come from Nebraska, Creighton and Clemson.
McDermott has about six months before he can sign with a college program, and he says he plans to make the most of that time.
“I'm wide open (as far as schools). I hope to make a decision before the high school season begins so I don't have that pressure while I'm playing.
“Both Indiana and Purdue offer a lot. Being in the Big Ten, they have good academics, great coaches and great players. Everybody wants to win. They're great programs. I think I'd fit in at both.”
That's a reality he doesn't need to mask.