Something I’ve noticed over the years is we in Iowa usually don’t celebrate the sporting achievements of our natives if they leave Iowa to attend college elsewhere.
I don’t think that’s an Iowa thing any more than it’s a Nebraska thing or Georgia thing or Arizona thing. But living here, I obviously notice it here.
An Iowa native — Creighton’s Doug McDermott — torched 6th-ranked Villanova Sunday for 39 points in the Bluejays’ 101-80 win. McDermott averages 25.9 points per game. He will be the National Player of the Year. This will be greeted by a yawn in most corners of the state because he crossed the Missouri River to play his college ball.
McDermott grew up in Iowa, played high school ball in Iowa for a state-champion at Ames High. He would have played college ball at Northern Iowa had his father, Greg McDermott, not left Iowa State to become Creighton’s coach. (If you think college basketball is good in Iowa this winter, how good would it be with a senior McDermott in the UNI lineup?)
Those who come to Iowa from Ohio or Massachusetts or Canada and become prominent basketball players at one of Iowa’s state universities are held in far-greater esteem here than an Iowan who did likewise out-of-state. We’re more supportive of them than the Iowans who go out into the world and make successes of themselves.
Marcus Paige of Linn-Mar High here in my neighborhood of Cedar Rapids-Marion has become a story that should be touted around here, loudly. After going through expected freshman growing pains at North Carolina last season, Paige has become a full-fledged terrific collegian.
In his last six games — all Tar Heel victories — Paige has averaged 18.0 points and 5.7 assists. He has made 51.5 percent of his 3-pointers (17 of 33) and 92.6 percent of his free throws (25 of 27) in that stretch, and has averaged 36.5 minutes.
Did I say he has become a terrific collegian? Make that an exceptional one. You’re looking at a preseason All-America pick next season.
But Paige, and McDermott, might as well be strangers to a lot of people in Iowa. Which is too bad, because both seem like decent guys who are good representatives of the state wherever they go.
Well, things are the way they are. But when a college sophomore from my backyard is doing the kinds of things Paige is doing right now with North Carolina, that should be something all basketball fans of Cedar Rapids-Marion enjoy.
And oh by the way, Marcus’ sister is finishing quite a career of her own. Morgan Paige is averaging 12.5 points and 33.2 minutes for Wisconsin this season. She had 1,173 career points and 139 three-pointers through Saturday. She makes her 74th-straight start Sunday when Wisconsin is at Penn State.
And oh by the way by the way by the way … Creighton senior guard Grant Gibbs of Linn-Mar is no slouch himself, with 4.4 assists per game.
Speaking of Linn-Mar … Kiah Stokes of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team is averaging 5.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. She had 18 rebounds in a game against Temple a little more than a month ago.