McCamey, Davis taking NBA’s (and Weber’s) advice to heart

John Supinie

Illinois junior guard Demetri McCamey called his experience with the NBA last week and a return to the Illini a "win-win situation.''

After NBA personnel repeated what coach Bruce Weber preached to McCamey and junior forward Mike Davis over the last three seasons, maybe it is also a win-win for the Illini.

"It came down to me and my decision, coach Weber and my mom, and what's best for my future,'' McCamey said Tuesday. "I felt another year of improving and improving my stock would benefit me more than probably getting picked in the second round and sitting on the bench. I played it perfectly, got the workout and got the things I need to do.

"I'm not money hungry. I might as well come back to college and try to win a national championship.''

After McCamey's workout with the Houston Rockets and Davis' session with the Portland Trail Blazers, the NBA gave them some advice. McCamey should work on his conditioning and play better defense. Davis needs to gain about 10 to 15 pounds of muscle while also improving his perimeter ballhandling and shooting skills.

Sound familiar? That's what Weber has been saying for years.

"If they listened, the feedback I got and what the players got from the NBA, it almost reinforces that,'' Weber said. "Are they going to remember and carry it on? The big thing is what they do in the next three to four months. We have to take a big step so we can compete for the Big Ten championship and compete in March.''

McCamey averaged a team-high 15.1 points and ranked second nationally with 7.1 assists while earning first-team all-Big Ten but didn't exert himself defensively.

"That's the first question they ask: Who can you guard?'' McCamey said. "They're looking for good character and somebody who can defend. I just have to do it all the time. I did it in spurts throughout the season. Sometimes I play defense, but I don't have the emotion.''

Davis, who averaged 10.7 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds, wants to reach 225 or 230 pounds while also stretching his shooting range and improving his ballhandling. He failed to boost those skills because of a broken foot last summer. His father said Davis should jump if he felt he'd be a second rounder this year and next year, but Davis wanted another chance at the first round.

"They see me more as a 4 or a 3, and they want me more of a 3 or a 4,'' Davis said. "Get to the basket. Use my athleticism to my advantage. They say I don't do that too much. I crash the boards with reckless abandon on defense. Do that on offense, too.''

Weber might have earned more trust with two of his leaders over the last month.

"I always had my trust in coach Weber, my AAU coach (Mike Mullins) and my family,'' McCamey said. "The media tries to blow it up because of the arguments and things like that. It's all love. We're winners trying to win.''

Said Davis: "Sometimes you're like, ‘He doesn't know what he's talking about.’ You hear the same things from the NBA, where you want to be, and you say, 'Maybe coach is right.' He's been around the game so long. He knows what he's talking about.''

NOTE: According to a Fox Sports report, Illinois will host North Carolina in an ACC-Big Ten Challenge game. The pairings are expected to be released Wednesday. … Former Illini reserve center Rich Semrau, who has one year of eligibility remaining, signed a letter of intent with Division II St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. Semrau can play next season.

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.