- Scott Powers, Reporter
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1. Illinois senior guard Demetri McCamey: McCamey made a wise decision returning for his senior season. While he could have been selected last year, he’s improved his draft stock, his game and the Illini by coming back. He’s averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds this season. NBA scouts especially like he’s dropped some weight and become quicker.
2. Northwestern junior forward John Shurna: Who would have thought NBA scouts would be talking about Shurna when he first arrived to Northwestern? Well, now they are. One scout told ESPN’s Chad Ford, “He's a better shooter and a more aggressive scorer than [Gordon] Hayward was. Both of them have a high basketball IQ and are better athletes than people think.” Shurna ranks sixth in the country in scoring at 24.4 points and still is shooting .629 from the field despite doing a lot of damage from outside.
3. Northern Illinois senior guard Xavier Silas: The fact Silas leads the country in scoring at 28.1 points per game isn’t that surprising. We saw this coming last season. But what does raise an eyebrow is that he’s improved his field goal percentage from last year’s .348 to this year’s .548 , his 3-point percentage from .321 to .475 and his free-throw percentage from .811 to .907. Silas put in the work this offseason, and it shows. A NBA payday could be his reward.
4. Northwestern senior guard Michael Thompson: No two players in the country may mean more to their team than Thompson and Shurna do to Northwestern. As he’s always been, Thompson has been that steady rock for the Wildcats at point guard. He’s averaging career bests of 15.7 points, 4.9 assists and 1.4 steals this season.
5. Bradley senior guard Andrew Warren: The Braves were expected to be a three-headed monster in Warren, Sam Maniscalco and Taylor Brown this season. That changed when Maniscalco and Brown were sidelined with season-ending injuries. Warren is the lone one remaining, and he’s doing his best to hold the walls up. He’s averaged 18.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals.
6. Illinois sophomore guard D.J. Richardson: No Illini player may be more underappreciated than Richardson. While Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Brandon Paul and Jereme Richmond will have better numbers than Richardson on a given night, no one, outside of Demetri McCamey, is more consistent than Richardson on offense and defense. He’s right around his average of 12 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.8 steals every game.
7. UIC senior guard Robo Kreps: Kreps was plagued by inconsistency a season ago. His shot just wouldn’t fall on regular basis no matter what he did. He’s appears to have figured it out this year. His percentages have shot back up, and he’s averaged 15.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals.
8. Northwestern sophomore guard Drew Crawford: Crawford had an inconsistent freshman season, and he’s gotten slightly better as a sophomore. He’s averaging 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals, but has had three games under double digits scoring. He’ll need to put up his average nightly for Northwestern to succeed in the Big Ten.
9. DePaul freshman guard Brandon Young: Young has so far trumped Jereme Richmond’s freshman season. Young has benefitted from being thrown into the fire at DePaul and receiving plenty of minutes. He had his share of mistakes early, but he’s starting to settle down and is eliminating his turnovers. He’s averaged 14.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals.
10. UIC senior forward Paul Carter: Carter has had the impact everyone thought he would after transferring from Minnesota to UIC this season. He’s been one of the state’s best big men and has averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.
11. Illinois senior forward Mike Davis: Davis’ and senior center Mike Tisdale’s numbers are similar, but Davis doesn’t get into foul trouble as much and is on the floor more. Davis still needs to be more consistent if he’s really wants to play in the NBA next season. He’s averaged 10.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks this season. He had four points and one rebound in Illinois’ recent loss to UIC.
12. Illinois senior center Mike Tisdale: Having finally put on weight and with another year of experience, expectations were high for Tisdale this season. So far, he’s been so-so. His main problem is staying on the court. He’s had nine games already with four or more fouls. He had a total of 11 of those last season. He’s averaging 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
13. Loyola senior guard Geoff McCammon: When McCammon is on, there’s few better shooters around. When he’s off, he’s completely off. McCammon has had six games of three or more 3-pointers. He’s also had four games where he’s missed five or more. All together, he’s averaged a team-best 14.2 points and connected on 81-of-170 3-pointers.
14. Loyola sophomore forward Ben Averkamp: Averkamp has the potential to be the next great one to come out of the Horizon League. He may be a few years away from attracting NBA attention, but he’s starting to put it together. Averkamp has size at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, and he can play inside and out. He had 17 points and seven rebounds against Kansas State and 17 and six against DePaul.
15. DePaul sophomore forward Tony Freeland: Freeland is starting to come around for coach Oliver Purnell. After a slow early stretch, Freeland has scored double figures in six of his last seven games. He’s averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 rebounds.
16. Chicago State senior forward Carl Montgomery: Montgomery got off to a slow start under first-year coach Tracy Dildy, but is beginning to play better. He had 25 points against Iowa State and 29 against Southern Illinois. He’s averaging 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.
17. Southern Illinois sophomore center Gene Teague: Teague has been one of the few bright spots for the Salukis this season. He’s taken a step forward as a sophomore and has a bright future. He’s averaged 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and improved his field goal and free-throw percentages.
18. Western Illinois senior guard Matt Lander: Lander has been picking up the slack with star guard Ceola Clark being injured for the Leathernecks. He’s among the top scorers in the state at 17.6 points.
19. Illinois State sophomore forward Jackie Carmichael: The Redbirds are the most balanced team in the state. Carmichael has averaged 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
20. Eastern Illinois junior guard Jeremy Granger: Granger is the jack of all trades for the Panthers. He’s averaging 12 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.0 steals.
Here's a look at the top college basketball players in the Chicago area.