By Paul M. Banks
University of Illinois juniors Demetri McCamey and power forward Mike Davis withdrew their names from the NBA Draft today. The duo will return to Champaign-Urbana for their senior Fighting Illini season. With a legitimate threat of a NBA lockout in 2011, pretty much every junior in the nation who was at least half-way decent optioned to test the waters this spring. And as long as they didn’t hire an agent- no harm, no foul.
McCamey’s draft prospects were literally all over the place, so it was somewhat expected that he would return to school for his final year. “Baby Ben Gordon” earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season, leading the Illini in scoring with an average 15.1 points while ranking second in the nation in assists with a school-record average of 7.1 apg.
As much as we all love to malign his defense (or lack thereof) he also led the Illini in steals (1.5 spg) and finished third on the team in rebounding (3.6 rpg). McCamey tallied seven or more assists in 21 games and tied a school record with a career-high 16 assists at Purdue, equaling the most assists in the NCAA on the season and ranking as the No. 3 all-time performance in a Big Ten game. He registered 10, 20-point games on the year, scored in double figures 28 times and was the UI’s top scorer in a team-leading 17 contests. McCamey is the only player in Illinois history to reach career milestones of 1,200 points as well as 500 assists in three seasons of competition.
“This was a great experience, a blessing for me to follow my dream of playing in the NBA,” McCamey said.
“After going through workouts and talking with my family and Coach Weber, I feel that it’s in my best interest to return to school for my senior season. Point guards are judged on victories. I think our team can do big things next year so I’m coming back to help us compete for championships and at the same time keep getting better so I can challenge for a first-round spot in next year’s draft.”
Davis received honorable mention All-Big Ten last season. The Big Ten’s top rebounder, averaged 9.2 boards to become the first Illini to lead the conference in rebounding in 23 years. (Ken Norman 1987). Davis’ total of 330 rebounds, meanwhile, stands as the third-highest single-season performance in school history. He also was third on the team in scoring with a 10.7 average. Davis tallied 15 double-doubles on the year, ranking second in the league behind Ohio State’s Evan Turner.
“I put my name in to hear from NBA personnel which areas of my game I need to make improvement,” Davis said.
“Deep down I knew another year of school was best for me, but having the chance to workout and get that feedback were helpful so I’m thankful for that opportunity. Now I’m motivated to work harder than ever so that we can have a great year next year, get back to the NCAA Tournament and make a run.”
“I am so proud of the way Demetri and Mike went through this process,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “They were receptive to the information they received and made mature, informed decisions. Demetri and Mike feel strongly about our program. They now have the opportunity to leave their mark on Fighting Illini basketball by graduating, leading us to a successful season and continuing to improve their game so that a year from now they can have the opportunity to play in the NBA.”