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The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

2:12 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Pete Maravich toyed with the idea of going to play for Bucky Walters at West Virginia University, but the coach at LSU had the inside track in convincing "The Pistol" to become a Tiger.

Maravich elected to go play for his father, Press Maravich, and the decision is hard to second-guess years later as Pete became a legend who still receives credit for revolutionizing the game with his unique approach and incredible skill set.

Many coaches have mentored their own kin during their collegiate days since the Maravich duo thrived in Baton Rouge. Pat Knight was a member of Bob Knight's Indiana squad from 1991-93, Saul Smith helped Tubby Smith's Kentucky Wildcats win the 1998 NCAA title and Homer Drew was on Valparaiso's bench when his son Bryce hit the game-winning buzzer-beater to finish off an upset of the No. 4 seed, Ole Miss, in one of the more memorable NCAA Tournament finishes of all- time.

This season, there are father-son duos at Creighton, Detroit and Canisius, and each has lifted its respective school into contention for conference crowns.

Doug McDermott was slightly overshadowed during his prep days playing next to blue-chip prospect Harrison Barnes, but the Bluejays' junior forward has done nothing but stand out since arriving in Omaha, Neb. McDermott was originally destined to play for Missouri Valley Conference rival Northern Iowa, but when his father Greg was given a 10-year deal by Creighton following his stint as Iowa State, the youngster decided to follow. The results have been impressive for both.

The lights-out shooter began to really blossom last season, as he scored 801 points (22.9 ppg), the third-most by a sophomore in MVC history, trailing legends Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird. Greg McDermott set a new school record for wins as Creighton finished 29-6 overall after being knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Barnes and the Tar Heels. But Doug was the only returning First Team All-American and the nation's leading returning scorer coming into this season.

Creighton has compiled a 14-1 overall record this season and remains undefeated in conference action heading into the weekend with McDermott pacing the team with 24 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, all while shooting 56.8 percent from the field, which includes a 50.7 percent effort from 3-point range.

The amount of points McDermott pours in is quite impressive considering the manner in which he does so. He rarely forces a bad shot and always seems to be in the right place at the right time as he gets the bulk of his points off open looks within the flow of the team's highly efficient offense. The Bluejays sit at No. 12 in the most recent AP poll thanks in large part to everything both McDermotts have accomplished.

Detroit also reached the Big Dance last season thanks to the efforts of coach- and-son tandem Ray McCallum Sr. and Ray McCallum Jr. The younger of the two was a highly touted prospect out of high school with offers from Arizona, Florida and UCLA. The young combo guard opted to compete as a Titan in the less-heralded Horizon League.

Although he has not been in the limelight much, the younger McCallum is making a name for himself as one of the top players in college basketball. He was one of just 19 players invited to Chris Paul's CP3 Elite Guard Camp along with notable ball handlers such as Trey Burke, Aaron Craft, Seth Curry and Peyton Siva.

Last season as a sophomore, McCallum was an All-Horizon First Team selection, the first such Titan honored since 2003, as well as the conference championship MVP. Detroit won 10 of its last 11 games, including a 70-50 rout of Drew's Crusaders in the Horizon League title tilt before suffering a 65-50 setback to Kansas in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

The junior point guard leads the Titans this season with 19.1 points, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals per outing. His contributions to Detroit go well beyond the box score, though, as he exhibits superior leadership qualities, plays tough defense on and off the ball, and even helps on the glass.

The Titans had won eight of their previous nine games before losing their last two to Cleveland State (74-62) and Valparaiso (89-88). McCallum Sr.'s team is 11-7 this season and still has a great chance to be in the thick of things as the Horizon League race gets more interesting down the stretch.

To close out 2012, Detroit clipped Canisius, 83-78, behind a strong 22-point outing by McCallum Jr. The Golden Griffins were paced by junior guard Billy Baron, who tallied 20 points and eight boards. Baron took an unusual route to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, as he first attended Virginia as a freshman before transferring to play for his father, Jim Baron, at Rhode Island in 2011-12.

The elder Baron led the Rams to four consecutive 20-win seasons before Billy's arrival, but URI finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 7-24 overall record which led the school to terminate the coach's contract. Shortly thereafter, he was hired to lead a Golden Griffins squad that finished last season with a dismal 5-25 record, which included a 1-17 mark in MAAC play.

The Golden Griffins have turned things around this season and the Barons are rightfully receiving a considerable amount of the credit. Canisius improved to 11-7 overall and 4-3 in conference on Thursday as it downed Manhattan, 64-60, at the Koessler Athletic Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Billy extended his double- digit scoring streak to nine games, and the junior guard is going to be in the discussion for MAAC Player of the Year if he keeps it up. He currently ranks fifth in the league in scoring (16.9) and first in assists (5.8).

All three schools will be a tough draws in their respective conference tournaments, and it could be that at least one the three father-son teams creates a magical moment in March similar to the one the Drews shared in 1998.

The Sports Network

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