After Dug McDaniel compiled a 15-point, 7-assist performance — his best outing in his young college career — to lead Michigan to a 90-75 victory over Minnesota last Thursday, Juwan Howard heaped praise upon his freshman point guard.
“For someone to be so young, so mature, that can make plays, hound the ball, and then to see his growth where he has now developed into today, that’s not easy to do — on the road in Minnesota, first Big Ten game,” Howard told the “Defend the Block” podcast. “But you would think he had been here before.”
McDaniel, of course, had never been in that situation before. In the wake of Jaelin Llewellyn’s season-ending ACL injury, McDaniel — in spite of his previously erratic play — found himself in the limelight. He had never faced Big Ten competition; never played in a true road game in college; never even drawn a start at this level. This was all brand new.
In a way, though, it wasn’t.
Back in 2018, McDaniel enrolled at St. Paul VI Catholic as a high school freshman expected to compete for reserve minutes. Two upperclassmen stalwarts — Duke’s Jeremy Roach and North Carolina’s Anthony Harris — sat ahead of McDaniel on the backcourt depth chart.
But Roach, the team’s starting point guard, tore his ACL in a preseason scrimmage. Less than a month later, Harris succumbed to the same fate, tearing his ACL in the second game of the year.
Suddenly, McDaniel — just 15 years old — found himself starting for an DC-area powerhouse.
“He was forced to grow up really quick,” Glenn Farello, McDaniel’s high school coach at St. Paul VI, told UM Hoops Tuesday. “No one expected him to come in and play many minutes or be in a starting role as a freshman.”
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