Ah yes, Demetri McCamey! Much has been written and said about the now former Illinois Fighting Illini point guard, who was essentially the face of that particular college basketball program for three years, and a starter for close to four.
He slowly but surely developed and matured during his time at Illinois, but never became a loud, vocal leader. He brought the ball up, but was never a “floor general;” it just wasn’t in his DNA. The Illini probably would have won a lot more games during his college career had Meechi been that kind of guy. The most glaring void we saw in Champaign-Urbana since 2007 is/was vocal on the court leadership.
McCamey kept telling the media during the first half of this past season what NBA scouts told him incessantly: “point guards are judged on wins, to get to the league you have to win.”
Well, the Illini did get their first NCAA Tournament win since 2006 last month, and Meechi was a big part of that. Unfortunately, it literally was the only thing Illinois won during McCamey’s time.
By Paul M. Banks and David Kay
You might have seen Gene Pingatore, Coach of St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois in the 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams,” which followed two high school students with dreams of playing in the NBA. He was also McCamey’s high school coach, and the leader of the West team in the McDonald’s All-American game.
“He’s definitely a true point, in that he’s unbelievable in seeing the floor. His passes are great and he gets the ball up the floor under pressure” Pingatore said when I caught up to him at MAA media day.
Pingatore also thinks he is going to be a better pro than a college player.
McCamey is one of the better assist men in college hoops and he also developed into a reliable scorer. Until their second round loss to Kansas, Illinois won every game in which McCamey had 7+ assists this season; and for long stretches over two-three seasons, McCamey carried the load on the offensive end for his team.
Though he is not a tremendous athlete, McCamey should get plenty of looks in the middle of second round and could possibly sneak his way into the late-first if a ton of unpredictable things go his way on draft night.
“Even though eh had some inconsistent shooting days this year at Illinois, he’s really a pretty good shooter, his threes were over 40%,” Pingatore continued.
McCamey’s weaknesses include: defensive effort, lateral defensive rotation on the perimeter, his shot selection took a while to develop and his maturity is still questioned sometimes.
“The funny thing about defense is it’s more a matter of desire than ability. He’s got the ability to be a very good defender because of his strength and quickness and so forth, I think that will get better as their becomes more pressure on him to be better,” Pingatore said.
Player Comparison: Jamaal Tinsley Tinsley was never the best athlete, but proved to be a very crafty point guard. He could find the open teammate and score when needed, but was never going to overwhelm anybody. McCamey figures to be better suited in a reserve role like Tinsley even though he was a starter for most of his NBA career.
After losing to the Illini in their opener, the UC-Irvine coach compared McCamey to Baron Davis. It’s also possible to see a lot of Ben Gordon in him. Especially on the defensive end. and a lot of people liked to compare Cames to Deron Williams. Probably only because they both have a big body, and played the same position at the same school. So while the D. Will analogies were natural; they weren’t really accurate.
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