PENDLETON — Last November, for a brief and frightening period of time, Sean McDermott was uncertain he'd ever play basketball again.
Almost a year later, he'll sign a letter of intent to play the game at the NCAA's highest level.
The Pendleton Heights senior verbally committed to Butler University last week — an honor that carries even more weight after he was hospitalized with a severe staph infection last year and lost the first six games of his junior season.
"It took a lot of hard work just to get back, let alone get to the level I was trying to get to before I got sick," McDermott said during a telephone interview Monday. "God definitely helped me out a lot with getting my health back and getting back on the court. It's something I cherish a lot more because of what I went through."
McDermott lost 17 pounds during his illness and recovery, but he was back on the court for the Arabians by early January and still managed to lead the team with 14.6 points per game.
College coaches continued calling all the while.
Indiana, Purdue, Nebraska, Creighton and Clemson were among the schools that showed interest. And McDermott had scholarship offers from Indiana State, Illinois State, North Carolina-Greensboro and North Carolina-Wilmington.
But he has fond memories of watching Butler win basketball games as he was growing up, and the Bulldogs' coaches made him feel at home.
"I just felt like Butler was the best place for me," McDermott said.
Comparisons are inevitable to Bulldogs rising junior Kellen Dunham — the former Pendleton Heights star and Indiana All-Star who averaged 16.4 points per game as a sophomore last season.
Both players are known for their shooting prowess, and McDermott will suit up for the Indiana Junior All-Stars against Kentucky on Friday in Greenfield and against the Indiana Senior All-Stars on June 9 in Logansport.