UCF hosted one of their top basketball recruiting targets on an official visit this past weekend.
Doug McDermott, a three-star forward from Iowa, says he came away from the trip extremely impressed with the Knights' program and everything the school has to offer. He was accompanied on the visit by his father, Greg McDermott, who is the head coach at Iowa State.
"I really liked things there," McDermott said. "It went really well. We flew in on Friday afternoon and Coach Kirk Speraw and Coach Jaz (Mike Jaskulski) picked us up at the airport. We went to eat on campus at a sports bar with all the coaches and Taylor Young and Drew Speraw. Then we met with the athletic director after that. I hung out with the guys that night and got a chance to know them. Then we went to dinner with the coaches again.
"Then on Saturday we went out to breakfast with Marcus Jordan and Dustin Speraw. I got a chance to see their posts do their individual workouts together, then I played pickup with their guys. That went pretty well. I really liked playing with them. They really share the ball and know how to play. The rest of the day we met with the coaches and they gave me some time to hang out with the guys. We went to the football game vs. Samford and I hung out with them that night as well.
"We were around the campus the first night, but the second night, Saturday night, we went to downtown Orlando and they showed me around. I thought that was cool. I actually saw a little bit of the new arena they're building for the Orlando Magic and that was cool. They said they go down to a game every once in a while. They also gave me an idea about how far it was from UCF to like the beach and Disney.
"On Sunday, we had breakfast at Coach's house, then flew out at noon. It was a good trip."
It was McDermott's second trip to UCF's campus. He had taken an unofficial visit earlier this summer while he was in Orlando for an AAU tournament.
"We were kind of in a hurry that day because I had to fly out and I didn't get to meet any of their guys on that trip," McDermott said. "I got a lot better feel for it on the official visit. I hung out with the guys a lot and got to know the coaches a little better. I kind of got to see how the campus is like with a lot of students around. When I went there in August there was hardly a soul on campus, so I got a better feel for that. I got to meet with some academic advisors as well."
The school itself, which is now the third largest university in the country, along with the new basketball facilities were particularly appealing to McDermott.
"(The campus) has got to be one of the best in the nation," McDermott said. "It's just crazy how there's just palm trees everywhere. Everything seems to be pretty new at least basketball wise with the arena and practice courts. The housing is really convenient. It's right across from the arena so the guys can go over there whenever they want. The campus, I was impressed with how many students there are and how kind of close it is. It's just a big circle. It's easy to get from place to place. That was impressive."
McDermott said he felt an instant connection with UCF's players too.
"I hung out the most probably with Taylor Young, Drew Speraw and A.J. Tyler," McDermott said. "I got to know Isaac Sosa. Marcus and Nik Garcia were only there Friday because they had to leave Saturday to go home. Then A.J. Rompza, I got to know him well and hung out with him both nights, and Keith Clanton. The other guys I saw mostly playing pickup.
"It was crazy, but in just 48 hours I knew them well by the end of the trip. They were really high on me and they told me they loved the coaches. They said they really connected with the coaches. They told me how good of an experience they've had there. I like how they're all young because I'd get to spend all those years with them. It was good to play with all of them."
He also developed a bond on the court as well.
"I fit in pretty well," McDermott said. "I was on A.J. Rompza's (pick-up) team quite a bit. He can really play. He's a point guard that reminds me of Steve Nash in how he plays. He's looking to pass first. He kind of had a connection with me from when I stepped on the floor. It was pretty cool. He was fun to play with. All the guys were fun to play with and all unselfish. They make the right play. I enjoyed it."
McDermott said it was a productive weekend in regards to his interaction with the coaching staff. They made it very clear how he would be utilized on their team.
"My dad even sat down with Coach Speraw and Coach Jaz and part of the thing (Speraw) was selling me on was their playing style," McDermott said. "They showed me a video of certain plays they run and they feel I can fit in. They think I can be a big part of their program. They've had guys like me in the past and feel I fit in well. I think the players let me know I fit their style of play too. This time around (Coach Speraw) sold my dad on the program a lot more just because I was kind of already familiar with it from what (Speraw) told me (during the first unofficial visit)."
McDermott's dad is usually the one hosting recruits, so the tables were turned so to speak.
"I think it was a different experience for him," McDermott said. "He's usually the guy in Coach Speraw's spot. I think he liked it. They compared playbooks and stuff like that. They talked about workouts. They've known each other for a while and they have a certain bond. He's comfortable with all of their coaches. He has a lot of good things to say about them."
Like the McDermotts, Speraw is also a native Iowan and is originally from Sioux City.
"I'm not sure how long they've known each other, but Coach Speraw played at Iowa back in the day for Lute Olson. He's a little older than my dad and I think my dad always knew who he was. I think it's good having a coach from Iowa on the staff so he can connect with the midwest kids a little bit."
Favorite part about the UCF visit?
"I think the thing I liked most about it was the family-like feeling I had for it," McDermott said. "The coaches, the managers and even the trainers, the whole team had a certain bond. They are always kind of hanging with each other and I liked that about it. The campus, that's a really good campus. That was a big reason why I liked it as well."
Over the next few weeks, McDermott plans to squeeze in two more official visits, plus will stay home for an "unofficial visit."
"I'm actually going to Creighton this Thursday and Friday," he said. "I worked out a deal with them to go during the week, then I'm going to the Iowa/Iowa State football game. UNI is the following weekend after that. I think it's good having the visits three in a row. There's not a lot of time in between them so I can get my feel for them on the visits and then make a decision afterward."
His mother plans to accompany him on the Creighton trip and McDermott will likely go solo on the UNI visit. He has said UCF, UNI and Creighton were his top three, though he is still considering walking on to play for his dad at Iowa State.
"They are all in the same boat right now," McDermott said. "I haven't gone to the Creighton or UNI visit, but the UCF visit really impressed me. That bumped them up a little. I was really impressed. I think I'll have a really good feel where I stand after these two visits. I'm glad I made it down there with my dad. Now I have something to compare these next two schools to. UCF for sure impressed me a lot though."