Creighton? Yes, Creighton. For the bluebloods and power-5 schools in college basketball it may seem strange to see the Blue Jays mentioned as a late contender for a top 50 recruit like Arthur Kaluma. But Creighton’s got momentum coming off a Sweet 16 run, and they’re one of the final four programs Kaluma is deciding between.
Arizona may be the favorite (in-state), Syracuse the next best odds (ACC, storied history, recent success), and Washington another strong option (big city, Pac-12, west coast). But Creighton is swimming with the bigger fish, and this may be a win by itself. Could Kaluma choose Omaha? Just by being in the conversation the Blue Jays have already won.
When Greg McDermott took over the program in ’10 Creighton was a big fish in a small pond. The excellent Dana Altman had taken the school to previously unheard of highs. Over 15 years in the Missouri Valley he had taken the Jays to the NCAA Tournament 7 times, winning a game twice. They were a perennial March Madness bracket buster.
Altman left, McDermott got the gig and nothing changed. The Jays won 23+ games in each of those three final seasons in the Valley, going to the tourney twice, and winning a game in each. At that point the Big East was looking to expand as Syracuse and friends turned off the lights as they headed elsewhere and in a strange bedfellow deal, suddenly Nebraska was a “Big East” state.
But the Jays kept winning. They have won 20+ games in 7 of the last 8 years, all in the Big East, and have gone to the tourney in three of the last four seasons it was played. They would have assuredly gotten into the field of 68 in ’20 as well. This year they made their first ever Sweet 16.
Stability, a multiple-bid conference, and an NBA pipeline has pushed Creighton to a next level. Despite McDermott’s controversial use of “plantation” this spring, he’s not going anywhere. Kyle Korver, Doug McDermott (“Dougie McBuckets”) and Justin Patton all are in the league. They are also battling SU and others for the elite Kyle Filipowski.
Kaluma has already committed to a school outside the Power 5. He was a member of UNLV’s class until things fell apart. Creighton may have existing options at forward, but they’d happily clear minutes for a player of Kaluma’s ability. It would be a surprise since Arizona and Syracuse seem to have a leg up, but is Creighton completely out of possibility? No, and that is already a victory for the Jays.