When Illini point guard Demetri McCamey was a freshman, he was a highly regarded recruit with a few explosive games but also terrible choice in shot selection. His sophomore year, the Illini needed a leader and a closer and McCamey developed into that go-to-scorer. He developed immensely on offense, but was still non-existent on defense.
Meechi’s junior season, he pretty much WAS Illini basketball. He made huge strides in his individual game despite his team’s considerable regression. McCamey became the team’s unquestioned leader, but wasn’t vocal enough in asserting his leadership. He finished second in the nation in assists, and broke a single game school record in that same statistic.
He tested the waters of the NBA draft, and learned what he needed to do when returned to Champaign.
By Paul M. Banks
“Point guards are judged by winning,” Meechi said.
“No matter how good your stats are, if you’re not a winner they’re not going to look at you. And if they do, you’ve got to be an exceptional Lebron James, John Wall kind of player,” he said.
So how is he going to make the mediocre, 21-15 Illini NIT team from last year into a consistent, tournament team?
“By any means necessary: scoring, assisting, coaching, cheerleading as long as we win, I don’t care how we do it,” he said.
“Cames” is shooting an incredible 60.4 percent from the field (32-53) and 50 percent from 3-point range (10-
20) on the very young season. He’s also averaging 7.4 assists through five games and owns a 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. While ranking second in the NCAA in assists last year, he set a school-record with an average of 7.1 apg.
Illini Head Coach Bruce Weber spoke about McCamey’s development at Media Day.
“Demetri’s made a lot of progress and I know a lot of things get focused on him, because he’s made such huge strides. Somebody told me he’s on the Wooden Award list, and I said he should be on the Wooden list, he is one of the best players in the country, but now can he do it on a consistent basis.”
McCamey leads the team in scoring on the season, averaging 17.2 points. He has reached double figures in all five games, and been the top scorer in each of the last four. Cames also owns the highest scoring average by an Illini player during Weber’s tenure, and the highest since Brian Cook averaged 20.0 points in 2003. His NBA draft stock is solid, as he’s drawn comparisons to Andre Miller, Ben Gordon, and Jamaal Tinsley.
For a full scouting report on McCamey go here
After visiting Champaign to start the season, UC-Irvine Coach Russell Turner talked about McCamey and saw some Baron Davis in him. He also talked about what McCamey needs to do to reach the league:
“He’s in an interesting position because he’s got a natural point guard’s ability- the way he sees the floor and how he makes passes to a lot of guys. I think he’s trying to figure out what the best role for him as a player is. He’s not in attack mode mode a lot offensively because he’s trying to set other guys up and that’s a tough adjustment…But he’ll have to become a true point guard because that’s what he’d have to play in the NBA.”
Obviously, McCamey wants to be a first round pick just like his high school teammate and close friend Evan Turner, the second pick overall by Philadelphia last June. He learned a lot from watching Turner go through the process, and also got some sound advice from Deron Williams. Because they play the same position at the same program, McCamey has drawn a lot of Williams comparisons.
I asked him what advice Deron gave him last off-season.
“Make the best decision for you, don’t let any scouts or anybody like that make a decision for you. Because it’s your decision and you have to live with it, so you better feel happy about doing it,” Cames said.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
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