Chicago Colleges: Demetri McCamey
The Bulls begin their summer league schedule in Las Vegas on July 17 and will play five games over six days.
“This is just an opportunity for him,” McCamey’s agent Roger Montgomery said. “Nothing is perfect. We recognize it’s what you make of it. It’s just the summer league. The summer league doesn’t mean you have a job. Whether you play for the Bulls who need a point guard, or play for the Orlando Magic who will be shuffling their roster and may see something they like, however it shakes out, you want to play well and earn an opportunity.
“He totally understands the situation. He embraces it. He’s excited. He’s eager to go out and really show people what they missed in the draft and also prove to himself he can do it and he was overlooked. I think he’s going to do it.”
McCamey declined an interview request through Montgomery and said he wanted to focus on his upcoming NBA opportunity.
Playing for the Bulls in the summer league will be unique for McCamey. He played at St. Joseph High School in the Chicago western suburb of Westchester and graduated the same year as Bulls guard Derrick Rose. They faced each other during their senior seasons in high school.
Rose is expected to miss a significant portion of the 2012-2013 season after tearing his ACL in last season’s playoffs.
To help fill Rose’s void, the Bulls drafted former Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague and are expected to add guard Kirk Hinrich in free agency. ESPNChicago.com reported Sunday that Hinrich has verbally committed the Bulls. The Bulls could still be searching for another point guard until Rose returns.
Montgomery believes McCamey can play in the NBA and has developed as a player since his final season at Illinois.
“Two things that stand out are his motor is much higher than it was when he was in college, and I think he’s getting to the basket better and not just solely relying on his jump shot,” Montgomery said. “He can shoot the ball. He needed to get to the basket and know when to attack and when to use his jump shot.”
Illinois coach Bruce Weber began to worry for his former players as the NBA draft pushed into the late second round on Thursday night.
“I knew which teams had called us,” said Weber, who watched the entire draft with his current team. “If this team picks this guy ... You’re whittling things down. Some of the teams hadn’t worked guys out, and you probably knew they were long shots to get picked up.”
As Weber feared, none of his former players would be among the 60 players selected into the 2011 draft.
Heading into the draft, there had been the possibility of three former Illini players to be taken. Power forward Mike Davis had an outside shot at going late in the second round. Small forward Jereme Richmond was considered a late second-round pick. Point guard Demetri McCamey had the greatest odds, and there were rumors he could be drafted in the first round.
“I was disappointed,” Weber said. “Each case was different. Most of the feedback we got from teams was Demetri was going to get drafted. We had heard as high as the late first round. I got that from a lot of people. That’s the craziness of the draft. One or two teams that liked you pick someone else or someone they didn’t think would be available is.”
McCamey’s camp had a similar reaction to the draft.
“Very shocked,” McCamey’s agent Roger Montgomery texted on Friday morning. “Had zero clue he would go undrafted.”
McCamey was still coming to grips with what happened on Friday. Montgomery texted that McCamey was “not in the mood to talk.”
ESPN basketball analyst Stephen Bardo was also surprised, but he thought McCamey might be better off by not being drafted late in the second round.
“You can now go to a team that has a need,” Bardo said. “Demetri might be better off to choose which team he goes to. It’s a situation where he might have a better chance to make it the NBA than a late second-round pick.”
The Atlanta Hawks could be one destination for McCamey. Weber said the Hawks had expressed a lot of interest in McCamey before the draft, but they had only one selection on Thursday and went with a big man.
For Richmond, his future includes more uncertainty. Richmond left Illinois after one season despite plenty of people telling him he should stay, but he was certain he would hear his name called on Thursday.
Draft experts had projected Richmond as a potential late first-round pick early in the process, but he continued to slide the last few months. ESPN NBA draft analyst Chad Ford had Richmond going to the Cleveland Cavaliers as the 54th overall pick in his final mock draft.
Richmond had a rocky freshman season for the Illini. He left the team for a few days and returned home to deal with a personal issue in January, was involved in an altercation with teammate Brandon Paul at the Big Ten tournament and was benched for the Illini’s two NCAA tournament games for violation of an athletic department rule. On the court, he showed glimpses of his McDonald’s All-American ability, but also struggled.
Bardo didn’t think Richmond would be selected based on his off-the-court issues.
“I wasn’t surprised that Jereme Richmond didn’t get drafted,” Bardo said. “I think he had too many question marks and rumors coming out about him. These guys do their due-diligence. They’re investing millions of dollars in these players. They’re going to know things going on. They start talking to people in the program. If things are negative all around, that’s not a good sign.
“Unfortunately, I think he’s like a lot of players. It’s NBA or bust. It’s amazing to me. I think younger players today they’re getting no advice. It was always when I was coming through if you didn’t go in the first round, you’d go back to school. It was as simple as that.”
Weber wished Richmond would have returned.
“In Jereme’s case, it’s a tough thing because he had another option,” Weber said. “Those guys were seniors and didn’t have options. It was certainly emphasized in talking to his family, and they made the decision and now he has to take a shot at the D-League or look overseas.”
A message left for Richmond’s agent was not immediately returned on Friday.
Making the future even more unknown for all three players is a probable NBA lockout, which would lead to the NBA’s summer leagues being cancelled.
“It’s going to be a long wait-and-see process,” Bardo said.
Bardo realized Friday would be a difficult day for those not drafted, but he thought there was a way of making the best of it.
“It’s a painful lesson,” Bardo said. “A guy like Jereme Richmond, who is obviously not getting good advice, he’s probably walking around in a daze. He probably didn’t expect to be in this situation. But whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It humbles you. There’s nothing wrong with being humbled. You can stay angry or get to work. Hopefully, they will get to work and will be ready when all this is resolved.”
Top 5 memorable games
1. UIC 57, Illinois 54: UIC shocked the country when it defeated No.14 Illinois before 13,117 fans, mostly Illini ones, on Dec. 17 at the United Center in Chicago. UIC only won two more games the rest of the year, but it made the Flames’ season. Illinois’ loss was the beginning of its struggles.
2. Illinois 73, UNLV 62: In their win over UNLV in the NCAA tournament on March 18, the Illini looked like the team everyone thought they would be this season. Illinois was unstoppable in the first half, went up 46-24 at halftime and never looked back. They lost in the following round to Kansas.
3. Ohio State 58, Northwestern 57: Despite playing without star John Shurna, Northwestern came within a basket of defeating the nation’s top-ranked team on Jan. 29 and winning the biggest game in the program’s history. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger broke a 57-57 tie with one of two free throws, and Northwestern guard Drew Crawford’s buzzer-beating attempt was off the mark.
4. Northwestern 71, Illinois 70: Northwestern nearly surrendered a 12-point second-half lead to the Illini on Feb. 5 in Evanston. Illinois pulled within 68-67 with a 5-0 run by Illinois’ Demetri McCamey. Northwestern hit 3-of-4 free throws in the game’s final seconds to hold on for the win.
5. Butler 65, Loyola 63: Loyola has lost to Butler by a combined three points at home the past two years. Butler defeated the Ramblers by one point at the Gentile Center in the 2009-2010 season and squeaked by with a two-point win on Dec. 1. Loyola held Shelvin Mack to nine points in this season’s game, but Matt Howard and Zach Hahn combined for 30 points in the win.
Illinois senior guard Demetri McCamey: His numbers took a dip late in the season when he went through a rough patch, but he still was the reason Illinois reached the NCAA tournament and is the state’s best player. McCamey, who is expected to be drafted, averaged 14.6 points, 6.1 assists and 1.0 steals and shot a career-best 45 percent from 3-point range.
Coach of the year
Illinois’ Bruce Weber: Only three local coaches (Weber, Northwestern’s Bill Carmody, Loyola’s Jim Whitesell) had a winning record in the 2010-2011 season. All three teams underachieved this season, but Illinois and Weber still reached the NCAA tournament.
Honorable mention: Ben Averkamp, Loyola, F, So.: 12.0 rebounds, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 blocks; Paul Carter, UIC, F, Sr.: 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists; Cornelius Chatt, SIU-Edwardsville, G, Jr.: 12.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals; Carlton Fay, Southern Illinois, F, Sr.: 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds;
Jeremy Granger, Eastern Illinois, G, Jr.: 14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 steals; Austin Hill, Illinois State, G, Sr.: 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists; Matt Lander, Western Illinois, G, Sr.: 17.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists; Geoff McCammon, Loyola, G, Sr.: 14.points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists; Carl Montgomery, Chicago State, F, Sr.: 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds; Brandon Young, DePaul, G, Fr.: 12.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.1 steals
Here’s a quick look at Kansas' 73-59 win over Illinois in the NCAA tournament’s round of 32 on Sunday.
How the game was won: Kansas jumped on Illinois early, building an 18-6 lead after five minutes. Illinois fought back to pull within two points, but the Jayhawks would never completely relinquish their lead. Kansas was dominant inside throughout the game, allowing Illinois few interior scoring chances and often scoring at will on the other end. It didn’t help Illinois that star guard Demetri McCamey closed out his career on a sour note, scoring six points and shooting 2 for 9 from the field.
Key stretch: With 4:57 left in the second half, Brady Morningstar avoided a trap and found Markieff Morris under the bucket. Morris threw down a monstrous dunk. Kansas went up 60-51, and the Jayhawks fans roared. One minute and seven seconds later, Tyshawn Taylor tossed up a pass for Morris, and he powered home an alley-oop dunk to go ahead 62-51. The game was over.
Stat of the game: Illinois needed to shoot well to beat Kansas, and that didn’t happen. The Illini shot 6 of 21 from 3-point range. They had shot 7 of 13 from 3 against UNLV in the round of 64.
Players of the game: Brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris owned the interior. Marcus went for 17 points and 13 rebounds. Markieff had 24 points and 11 rebounds. They accounted for 56% of Kansas’ points and 71% of its rebounds.
Illinois player of the game: D.J. Richardson had a rough seven-game stretch leading up to the NCAA tournament where he didn’t score more than five points. His confidence was completely gone, and Illinois suffered for it. Against UNLV, he began looking like his old self, scoring 10 points. On Sunday, he took an even bigger step, scoring 15 points off the bench.
ESPN SportsCenter highlight of the game: In the first half, Illinois sophomore guard Brandon Paul’s 3-point attempt from the top of the key bounced off the rim, soared in the air well above the shot clock, clipped the rim on its way down and dropped into the net. TNT commentator Steve Kerr said he’d never seen a shot like it.
What the game means: It’s the end of another disappointing season for the Illini. They did reach the NCAA tournament and defeated UNLV in the opening round, but this season was supposed to be about so much more. Illinois was returning four seniors, including future NBA point guard McCamey, two experienced sophomores in Richardson and Brandon Paul, and a touted recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American Jereme Richmond. Experts were predicting possibly a Big Ten championship and at least a Sweet 16 run. Illinois was inconsistent all season and never lived up to that hype. It won’t be easy for Illini fans swallow losing to former coach Bill Self on Sunday either. The pressure will likely be on Illinois coach Bruce Weber to win bigger next season to keep his job.
How Demetri McCamey’s college career will be judged depends on what Illinois does in the next few weeks.
If McCamey and the Illini underperform, failing to make another NCAA tournament or get knocked out in the opening round again, he will likely be thought of as a gifted player who could amaze and frustrate, but just never could make Illinois a consistent winner. His career will be defined by Illinois’ struggles in the Big Ten -- the Illini are 34-37 in conference in McCamey’s four seasons -- and its lack of postseason success, with just one NCAA tournament appearance and no wins to date.
McCamey knows this, too.
“Everyone remembers a winner,” said McCamey, who will play in his final home game on Saturday. “If you go out and win, people won’t remember your first game, but your last game. [This season] has been a lot good and some bad. I’m just trying to have a strong finish.”
McCamey’s senior season hasn’t played out as he expected. With Illinois returning nearly its entire team from last season and adding a talented freshman class, McCamey was hopeful the Illini could be among the top teams in the country and could compete for a Big Ten title.
For a little more than a month to start the season, that seemed realistic. Illinois came out strong out of the gates led by McCamey. Hitting outside shots, crossing up defenders, scoring on the drive and ranking among the nation’s leaders in assists, McCamey was playing as well as anyone in the country. People were starting to talk about him as a high NBA draft pick.
It wouldn’t last. An unthinkable loss to UIC at the United Center began derailing the Illini. McCamey stayed consistent for a little longer, but he also began dropping off in January. His points and assists fell drastically, and it led to Illinois coach Bruce Weber publicly stating that runners and agents had filled McCamey’s head with how great he was and he had stopped working.
McCamey swears that wasn’t case.
“Coach probably thought all the talk of the NBA by everyone and the newspapers was giving me a big head,” McCamey said. “That wasn’t true. I was as frustrated with my play as anyone.”
McCamey’s struggles coupled with the Illini falling out of contention in the Big Ten title race and putting themselves in position to be on the NCAA tournament bubble again resulted in people taking their anger out on McCamey. He was blasted on the message boards. People questioned him on the radio. There were Weber’s comments.
Some people even went as far as telling him how they felt about on his Twitter and Facebook pages.
“Some people told me I was the worst player,” McCamey said. “I occasionally would have to go on Facebook and delete some things.”
McCamey didn’t let those criticisms affect him. He understood it comes with the territory. He was more concerned about what had become of his game. He’s made a conscious effort to be more aggressive in the past few weeks, and it’s paid off.
After going through a three-week spurt during which he had four games of less than 10 points, he’s put up 15 or more points in his last four games. His assists have also risen again, dishing out six against Ohio State and seven against Iowa recently.
Statistically, McCamey will go down as one of the best ever to wear the orange and blue. He started 111 of 135 games in his career. He’s just the second Big Ten player in a career to have 1,600 points and 700 assists. He ranks second on Illinois’ all-time charts and fourth in Big Ten’s with 710 career assists. He’s seventh on the school’s career scoring list with 1,663 points.
The numbers are nice, but they’re not what McCamey is aiming for. When asked what his ideal senior day would be like on Saturday, he had only one expectation.
“Hopefully go out with a bang and just get a win,” McCamey said. “I don’t want to score 30 points or dish out 20 assists. I want to win.”
With that one and a handful more wins in March, McCamey will be on his way to being remembered fondly in Champaign.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber put some of Demetri McCamey's recent struggles on his senior guard, but he placed much more of the blame on all of the people who have been in McCamey's ear.
"It's disappointing, some of it is Demetri, obviously," Weber said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But the outside influences, just kill kids, I'm just telling you. I feel bad. He was playing so well, and all of a sudden, the runners, the agents, the third-party people, they're all telling him he's an all-American and this and that.Read the full story.
The Buckeyes arrive to Champaign undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. The Illini have their perfect 10-0 home record to defend and are looking for revenge after Ohio State defeated them three times last season, including an overtime victory at the Big Ten tournament that ended Illinois’ NCAA tournament hopes.
Turner left school early after last season and was drafted No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
“[Illinois-OSU is] probably still a rivalry,” McCamey said. “I don’t know if it’s as much trash talk. Me and him were probably doing the most."
Even for Turner, watching the game from home instead of playing in it will be different.
“It’s weird even being away from Ohio State,” Turner said on Friday night. “Not kind of having Demetri around and having a little bit of distance is weird. We both went to the same high school and both played in the same conference. Now, we’re at two different levels of basketball. I haven’t seen him a while. It’s definitely weird.”
McCamey nearly joined Turner in the NBA this season, but pulled his name out of the draft to return for his senior year. McCamey’s motivation was to help Illinois back to the NCAA tournament and boost his NBA stock.
McCamey’s decision has paid off as he’s improved in nearly every statistical category and is among ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford’s top 25 NBA prospects. McCamey is averaging 16.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists and is shooting .525 from 3-point range.
Turner has been impressed. He tweeted out recently to his 24,000-plus followers, “My boy demetri mccamey is arguably the best pg in college basketball. Just doesn't have the hype. He the real deal tho.”
Turner can’t wait until he and McCamey are both in the NBA. It’s something they used to talk about while playing together for St. Joseph High School and the Illinois Wolves, a club team, as teenagers.
“That’s going to be so cool,” Turner said. “It’s crazy, when he was a freshman and he was super good, and I wasn’t so good, I remember him telling everyone, ‘Me and Evan are going to make to the league. If he makes it, he’s going to take me. If I make it, I’m going to take him.’
“It’s funny being 16-year-olds and talking about that, and now that’s what’s going to happen. That’s us being really blessed and being around the right people.”
Turner’s first season in the NBA has been rocky. He had an 18-game span between Nov. 24 and Dec. 27 where he only scored in double figures once. Lately, he has found more of a rhythm. He scored 23 points against Phoenix in late December and had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists against Detroit earlier this month. He is averaging 7.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
McCamey has no doubt Turner’s best is yet to come.
“It’s just a good adjustment for him, the speed of the game, the time, the momentum, the coaching staff,”
McCamey said. “He’s in a little bit of transition and hopefully he can get back on track.”
Turner saw it in the same way.
“I’m all about paying my dues,” Turner said. “Sometimes it hasn’t meant to happen. Some of the shots I usually make aren’t going in. I keep working hard. That’s the best thing from coming up from the bottom. I’ve done it before.”
Turner has a shoot-around Saturday morning before playing Utah in the evening, but he’ll back home in time to watch the Illinois-Ohio State game. He hopes his good friend McCamey does well, but his prediction was an Ohio State victory.
“I’m a Buckeye, baby,” Turner said with a large laugh.
1. Overall, this could be one of the worst seasons ever for the state. Bradley and Illinois State are 0-5 in the Missouri Valley. UIC is 0-4 and Loyola is 1-5 in the Horizon League. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville’s record doesn’t count in the Ohio Valley this season, but it’s 0-4 against conference teams. Chicago State is 0-1 in the Great West. DePaul is 0-3 in the Big East. Northwestern is 1-3 in the Big Ten. Western Illinois is 1-4 in the Summit League. Northern Illinois is 0-1 in the MAC. Eastern Illinois is 2-3 in the Ohio Valley. Illinois and Southern Illinois are the only teams in the state above .500 in their conferences. Illinois is 3-0 in the Big Ten, and Southern Illinois is 3-2 in the Missouri Valley. All together, the state is 11-40 in conference play.
2. Illinois could be the only team in the state to reach the NCAA tournament. The Illini aren’t a lock yet, but they’ve opened the Big Ten season strong and secured a couple of quality non-conference wins. Northwestern is the only other team with a chance, and the Wildcats have some work to do after starting the Big Ten 1-3 with losses to Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois and a win over Indiana.
4. DePaul’s youngsters can play. Blue Demons freshmen Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young have shined in the Big East. Melvin has averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 rebounds, and Young has averaged 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals in DePaul’s three Big East games. It’s a promising sign for DePaul’s future.
5. Northern Illinois senior guard Xavier Silas' scoring numbers have dipped, but he’s still competing for the national scoring title. Since putting up 20-plus points in seven of his first eight games, Silas has been held to less than 20 points in four of his last five outings. He shot 5 of 31 and scored 19 total points in back-to-back games against Southern Illinois and Missouri in late December. Defenses are keying on Silas, and his field goal and 3-point percentages have dropped. He’s still averaging 23.3 points, which ranks sixth in the country.
6. Loyola is experiencing a bad déjà vu. Last season, the Ramblers got off to a 11-2 start, but lost 14 of their last 17 games. They finished the season 14-16. This season, Loyola was hot again from the start , winning its first seven games. The Ramblers even pushed Butler and Kansas State to the brink. Since then, Loyola’s season has unraveled. It’s currently 10-7 overall and 1-5 in conference. The Ramblers haven’t had a winning season in conference or overall since 2006-07.
McCamey averages 16.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals for the Illini. He ranks fourth in the country in assists and 16th in 3-point shooting percentage (.522).
Shurna averages 21.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals. He’s 16th in the nation in scoring and his .583 3-point shooting percentage ranks second.
The Big Ten is also represented on the list by Ohio State freshman center Jared Sullinger, Purdue senior center JaJuan Johnson, Purdue senior guard E’Twaun Moore and Wisconsin senior forward Jon Leuer.
There was talk of a Big Ten championship, a Sweet 16 berth -- or better, a nationally ranked recruiting class highlighted by a McDonald's All-American and the possibility of having a few future NBA players.
But after two unexpectedly competitive exhibition games, Weber hopes his players have awoken to the reality that when they tip off the season against UC Irvine on Monday [ESPN3.com at 7 p.m.] nothing will be handed to them, no matter the hype.
"I think our team bought a little too much of the hype," Weber said on Sunday night. "We haven't arrived, and we didn't play like we arrived [in our exhibition games.]
"It was a by-product of all the media days hype. It was a great lesson. Hopefully, it'll help. It's fun, but there's a long way to go."
Weber expected to see more from his team, especially from senior point guard Demetri McCamey, during their 76-67 win over Southern Indiana and 75-65 win over Lewis, but he isn't hitting the panic button, like some who follow the program.
"I think there was a crisis after the two exhibition games, at least from the media and from the fans," Weber said. "It's so early, and we're so young and new. You go to figure it out. I wish we were peaking. I don't way to say peaking, but I would love to see us playing better. I think it was a good learning experience."
Weber believed part of the reason for the early struggles was an emphasis on defense in practice. When he looked back at last year's disappointing season, it was the Illini's inability to play consistent defense that jumped out at him.
"We've put a lot of time in on defense," Weber said. "Offensively, we're not going to be clicking how we should be and how we could be. We can always get better on offense. It's just the defense that we got to get better at. That's the thing that killed us last year."
After Sunday's practice, Weber reminded his team to not overlook UC Irvine or any of their early season opponents. When it came down to it last season, the Illini missed the NCAA tournament because of their non-conference play. The Illini fell to Bradley, Georgia and Utah -- three teams which finished with a combined 44-49 record last season -- during their non-conference slate. Those losses came back to bite them when Illinois was weighed against other potential NCAA tournament teams.
"We have to respect the game," Weber said. "We have to respect the opponent. We have to learn not to just beat a team by five points. You're capable of beating opponents by a bigger margin. You have to have a killer instinct. I think that hurt us last year."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
3:30 PM ET Wake Forest 1 Florida State 3:30 PM ET 3 Alabama 11 Ole Miss 3:30 PM ET 4 Oklahoma 25 TCU 7:00 PM ET 15 LSU 5 Auburn 12:00 PM ET 6 Texas A&M 12 Mississippi State 3:30 PM ET 7 Baylor Texas 10:30 PM ET Utah 8 UCLA 3:30 PM ET 14 Stanford 9 Notre Dame 8:00 PM ET 19 Nebraska 10 Michigan State 4:00 PM ET Vanderbilt 13 Georgia 7:30 PM ET Arizona State 16 USC 3:30 PM ET 17 Wisconsin Northwestern 12:00 PM ET 20 Ohio State Maryland 12:00 PM ET Iowa State 21 Oklahoma State 12:00 PM ET SMU 22 East Carolina 7:00 PM ET Texas Tech 23 Kansas State