When Baylor Scheierman was playing grassroots ball for the OSA Crusaders in Nebraska, he would often look up in the bleachers and see Creighton coach Greg McDermott watching him. Well, McDermott wasn’t watching him, really. He was there to recruit Scheierman’s teammate Shereef Mitchell, a 6-foot guard from Omaha. Though Mitchell ended up signing with Creighton, Scheierman never had a real conversation with McDermott, much less a scholarship offer from him. The only Division I school to offer Scheierman was South Dakota State, to which Scheierman committed following his junior season at Aurora High. “They weren’t super wrong,” he says of all the high-major coaches who passed on him. “It definitely didn’t shake my confidence, but it made me realize how hard I had to work to get to where I wanted to go.”
It was a much different story on April 25 when Scheierman, a 6-6 junior guard, entered the transfer portal following an outstanding season with the Jackrabbits. He had gone from averaging 6.0 points on 24.7 percent 3-point shooting as a freshman to 16.2 points on 46.9 percent to go along with 4.5 assists. Scheierman was named the Summit League player of the year and led the Jackrabbits to a 30-5 record and a berth to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost 66-57 in the first round to Providence. His decision to enter the portal had already been reported by the media, so when he officially put his name in, the coaches were ready to pounce. Chris Beard, John Calipari, Eric Musselman, Jon Scheyer and Bill Self, to name a few, blew up his cellphone within the first hour.
McDermott was also among the first to call. He, too, believes he wasn’t super wrong not to recruit Scheierman in high school, but he understood that Scheierman was super right for Creighton’s up-tempo, three-happy system. “In high school, he shot it good but not great,” McDermott said. “He was really thin, and defensively he was without a position at our level. But to his credit, he took the one scholarship offer he had at South Dakota State and built himself an incredible career.”
McDermott knew he was going up against some big names in Scheierman’s recruitment, but he had some built-in advantages. Coaching at a school that’s a two-hour drive from Aurora was the biggest one. McDermott is also close with South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson, who played for McDermott at Wayne State, a Division II school in Nebraska, and was a grad assistant under him at Iowa State. McDermott and his wife are godparents to Henderson’s oldest child. In addition, McDermott coached SDSU assistant coach Bryan Peterson at Iowa State.
After a couple of phone conversations with Scheierman and his parents, McDermott and his staff flew to Atlanta for a meeting with Scheierman and Austin Walton, the agent whom Scheierman has hired to steer him through the NBA Draft process. Scheierman entered the draft on March 24, and he decided to enter the portal a month later to maximize his options. Scheierman and Walton withstood the initial bombardment of calls, canvassed all the possible destinations and whittled the list to 10 schools, then to five. Tuesday, Scheierman’s basketball journey finally came full circle when he committed to Creighton.
“Creighton has a system that I could really thrive in,” Scheierman said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot at South Dakota State. I’m not sure there’s anything else I can do there that would help my pro stock. If I don’t stay in the draft, the thing people are going to want to see is how I play against a higher level of competition on a nightly basis. And I really think we can win big there.”