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Dave Weaver, Associated Press
Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) drives past Southern Illinois' Dantiel Daniels, left, and Mamadou Seck (0) during an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Omaha, Neb. Creighton won 90-71.

OMAHA, Neb. — Doug McDermott is making a name for himself at No. 19 Creighton. Before he showed up in Omaha last year, McDermott was the wingman for superstar Harrison Barnes at Ames High School in Iowa.

McDermott is receiving mention as a candidate for national player of the year while leading the 16-2 Bluejays to a share of the Missouri Valley Conference lead.

McDermott's 24.3-point average is second nationally to Damian Lillard's 25.5 for Weber State. No sophomore in the nation has scored more points so early in his career.

Barnes is the leading scorer for No. 8 North Carolina. He said he texts McDermott and watches his highlights on TV.

Athletic director Bruce Rasmussen says McDermott already is among the school's most popular players ever.

AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Chapel Hill, N.C., contributed to this report.