NEWS

Weber confident McCamey will return

John Supinie

URBANA — There was no surprise at the Illinois basketball team banquet Tuesday. Junior guard Demetri McCamey earned the MVP award.

McCamey is expected to submit his name for the NBA draft and not hire an agent following a 10:30 a.m. meeting today in coach Bruce Weber’s office, and Weber doesn’t see any surprises coming down the line. Weber feels McCamey is another year away from the possibility of becoming a first-round pick.

A month ago, McCamey said he wouldn’t take a risk on a second-round selection in the NBA draft or a contract in Europe instead of returning to Illinois for his senior season.

“I believe that,’’ Weber said. “He’s a smart kid. He’s not stopped going to class. He’s in the workouts. The feedback I’ve gotten is that he’s made so many strides (this year), if he can do that again then he’s a legitimate first-rounder.

“I tried to stay in contact with him and his mom, plus people I deal with around him. I don’t think there’s any crazy thing, definitely not Europe. If he’s not going to class, then I would start worrying about it. They checked today. He was there.’’

McCamey wouldn’t hire an agent if he submitted his name, he said. The first-team all-Big Ten pick would have until May 8 to pull his name and retain his eligibility.

“It’s too early to sign with agents,’’ McCamey said. “Even if you’re going to stick, you want to get a good feel and try to get some workouts. You always have time to sign with agents. Right now if I do enter, I won’t sign with an agent.’’

There’s “no harm’’ in submitting his name if McCamey follows the rules to stay eligible, Weber said, but McCamey would also have a tight window. He can’t miss school for an NBA workout. With no workouts scheduled before May, there’s only one weekend to get in front of the NBA scouts. McCamey hoped to get something planned for Chicago or Champaign, although Weber was unsure if a workout could be held in a campus facility.

But if things change, Weber wouldn’t hold McCamey back if he was a solid first-round pick. McCamey isn’t a first-rounder in respected mock drafts.

“You have to have that guarantee,’’ Weber said. “It’s not just one team and a shot in the dark. It’s got to be a definite. Any NBA person or honest agent would tell you that. He’s got to do his education on that and make sure.’’

Award winners

McCamey led the Illini by averaging 15.1 points and ranked second nationally with 7.1 assists. Junior Mike Davis received the team’s rebounding award after averaging 9.2 per game, and junior Mike Tisdale received the Ralf Woods free throw award by hitting 82.4 percent in Big Ten play.

After going from deep reserve to a starter, junior Bill Cole earned the most improved award and the Matto Award for the highest total on the season in play-hard stats.

“He could have quit,’’ Weber said. “Last year, they were asking me if he’s going to transfer. I still remember him saying he wanted to be a part of it. He wanted to lead the Matto per minute. He led the whole number.’’

Freshman D.J. Richardson took home the Orange Krush 3-point award after making 69, ranking second all-time among Illini freshman. Freshman Brandon Paul received the Lou Henson Courage Award for taking the most charges. In a near-unanimous vote, senior Bubba Chisholm, a walk-on who earned a scholarship in his final semester, received the Kenny Battle most inspirational award.

Note

Weber will hold a meeting today with redshirt freshman forward STAN SIMPSON, who logged 17 minutes all season and periodically missed practice and games while working to improve his grades. Said Weber: “It’s important for him to have good standing academically, then we’ll decide what his future entails.’’

John Supinie can be reached at 217-377-1977.