Marcus Derrickson striving to become third St. Jerome graduate in NBA
By CHRIS McMANES — St. Jerome Academy has two graduates playing in the NBA. A third is looking to join them.
Marcus Derrickson, who led the Jaguars to the 2011 city championship, is in training camp with the Golden State Warriors. Fellow alumnus Quinn Cook is in his second year with the team.
Derrickson spent several hours in late August and September working out on St. Jerome’s Dick Brown Memorial Court. He and his dad, Reggie, still do basically the same order of drills they’ve been doing for years.
“As soon as I came back in the gym, it was just like I was back in middle school again,” Marcus Derrickson said. “My shot was falling. These rims and I have a great relationship. I made a lot of jump shots here, put a lot of practice in. A lot of summers.
“It’s great to be back.”
Derrickson left for the Warriors’ preseason camp in Oakland, Calif., in mid-September. He will find out in the next few days where Golden State will assign him. He could be a two-way player, meaning he’s eligible to play in the NBA and the Warriors’ G League development team in Santa Cruz, Calif. He could go straight to the G League.
Derrickson’s goal is to play the entire year with the two-time reigning world champions.
“It’s in my nature to compete,” Derrickson said. “I feel as though if I go in being me, I’ll just let things work out. The main thing for me is to go in there, have fun and do what I love doing.”
UPDATE: Golden State signed Derrickson to a two-way contract Oct. 13. This makes him eligible to play up to 45 games with the Warriors. He and Damion Lee are Golden State’s two-way players. Lee played high school ball at Calvert Hall in Towson. The Warriors play in Washington against the Wizards on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.
Derrickson earned an invitation to training camp through his performance in the Las Vegas and Sacramento NBA Summer Leagues. He’s averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds in Golden State’s first three preseason games and making 38.5 percent of his 3-pointers.
His team heads to Las Vegas tonight to play LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN will televise the game live at 10:30 p.m. EDT.
In his debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sept. 29, Derrickson scored 10 points, including 2 0f 5 from 3-point range, and had three rebounds. He was in the starting lineup the next game against the Sacramento Kings.
At 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Derrickson presents a difficult perimeter match-up for smaller players. He’s a very good outside shooter and has the toughness and tenacity to mix it up in the paint. Defensively, he averaged 1.3 steals during summer ball.
Derrickson describes himself as “position-less” and said he’ll do whatever Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr asks of him.
“Whatever the coach wants me to do, I’ll go out there and do,” he said. “I can play offense, defense, and feel like I’m an underrated defensive player.”
A Hoyas farewell
Derrickson played his first two seasons at Georgetown under John Thompson III. Last year, under new coach and Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing, he started all 29 games and posted career-high averages in points (15.9) and rebounds (8.1). His 50 percent (29 of 58) mark from 3-point range ranked second in the Big East Conference.
After being named second team All-Big East, Derrickson’s advisors recommended he forego his senior season and enter the 2018 NBA Draft. He went undrafted but signed a free-agent contract with Golden State on Aug. 13. He’s playing about 15 pounds lighter than he was at Georgetown.
A scare & a championship at St. Jerome
Derrickson came to St. Jerome from Bowie’s Pointer Ridge Elementary in 2006. His year-older sister, Nicole, also played basketball for the Jags. Boys varsity basketball coach Joe Sego was initially unaware of Derrickson.
As he was winning his first CYO Boys 14U Mid-Atlantic City Championship in 2008, Sego recalled St. Jerome’s longtime physical education teacher Eric Heller telling him that “‘the best basketball player in the school doesn’t even play for you.’ And I said, ‘who might that be?’”
Sego remembers well Heller informing him about a “chubby kid who’s just amazing. And that was Marcus.”
Sego tried to get the youngster to play for him, but Derrickson was firmly entrenched on his AAU team, the D.C. Warriors. His father finally allowed him to play for St. Jerome in seventh grade. Things didn’t go well.
Derrickson, growing rapidly, developed tendinitis and a painful build-up of fluid in his left knee. So much so that he had to have the knee drained. Following an early season practice, Derrickson was doing some shooting drills. All appeared normal.
“Then all of a sudden, he just looked gray; he looked sick,” Sego said. “He said he wasn’t feeling good. He was clammy looking. His dad took him to [Prince George’s Hospital Center] immediately and they sent him right away to Johns Hopkins, where he had to have emergency surgery on his knee.
“Basically, a staph infection was introduced when they drained his knee. They didn’t know [the infection] was encapsulated, and it burst during practice.”
As Sego gazed upon his star player in a hospital bed, he said he wondered if the young man’s career might be over.
“But he ended up rehabbing it and coming back,” he said. “He’d work on his form, shooting one legged. We had a good season that year. We ended up losing in the city championship game by three to Holy Family.
“Had he played, we would have won the championship without a doubt.”
Derrickson returned to full health and led the Jaguars to the 2011 Mid-Atlantic city title with a win over Queen of Peace. He won the Daniel Bell Memorial Award as tournament MVP.
“Marcus was easily the most dominating player that I’ve ever seen play CYO in the 25 years I’ve been coaching,” Sego said. “He was 6-foot-5, could handle the ball like a point guard and had NBA range [on his jump shot] at 13-, 14-years-old.
“There probably will never be another CYO player just as totally dominating as he was.”
The St. Jerome Academy gym is the same one where Victor Oladipo honed his skills under the late Dick Brown. He and Cook were teammates there and at DeMatha. Oladipo made his first NBA All-Star team last season. He graduated from St. Jerome in 2007 just as Derrickson was finishing his first school year in Hyattsville.
Crossing the Potomac
Derrickson was heavily recruited by Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schools, including DeMatha, but chose to play for Glenn Farello at Pope Paul VI in Fairfax, Va.
Derrickson cited his close relationship with then-assistant coach Kenny Johnson as a key reason he chose to suit up for the Panthers. The commute required him and some teammates to catch Metrorail from New Carrollton or Largo to Vienna, Va., each day. From there, a shuttle would take them about 15 minutes to Paul VI.
The 2011-12 Panthers finished 18-0 in the WCAC regular season and won their first tournament championship with a 55-54 victory over DeMatha. They added the Virginia state private schools title, and Derrickson was named MVP. They punctuated the season by downing Coolidge in the final Abe Pollin City Title game.
Paul VI (35-3) finished No. 1 in The Washington Post Top 20 that year and in 2014. Derrickson was a two-time first-team All-Met and played on two WCAC champions. He committed to Georgetown as a junior.
Tiring of the four-hour commute to and from school, he told the Post he thought his time would be better served by spending more of it practicing. So, he transferred to play his senior year at what he called “the best prep school in the country.”
“We had a lot of success [at Paul VI],” Derrickson said, “and then I ended up going to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, where I feel like I made the best decision in my life to prepare for college and prepare for the rest of my career.”
Dream within reach
Derrickson has the ability to play in the NBA. If he sticks with Golden State, he would be playing with All-Stars like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Should the Warriors release him next year or beyond, he would be free to sign with another NBA club.
“From a young age, I always told my parents my dream was to be in the NBA,” he said. “Everything I did in my spare time was basketball. That was the start of my work ethic. I just love the game. I have a deep passion for it. It’s a drive I’ve had ever since I was a little kid.
“I not only want to play in the NBA, I want to be there for a while.”
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) coaches baseball and basketball at St. Jerome Parish.