Freshman guard sheds light on adjusting to college ball

By Jeff LaBelle

Demetri McCamey has seen his minutes rise from eight, 17 and 20 minutes a game to 38 in the Illini’s losing contest against Indiana Sunday. He did not turn the ball over once while filling in for an injured Chester Frazier.

It’s easy to concede that a desire to someday be on a game show and his success in bitty ball may have played a limited role in his arrival on the college scene, but when it’s all said and done, who really knows? Meet freshman guard Demetri McCamey, proud member of the Illinois men’s basketball team.

Daily Illini: What was your hardest class last semester?

Demitri McCamey: It was probably community health because there were so many definitions to remember. There were a lot, over 200 definitions that I had to know. But I did real good, got a B out of the class.

DI: What was the easiest?

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DM: Oh, that was English, Rhet 101. I’ve been reading and writing for so long, and all that stuff was really familiar.

DI: Who did you model your game after when you were growing up?

DM: Deron Williams and Baron Davis. They’re just two big-body guards that can do everything — shoot, dribble, get other guys involved.

DI: Is that you?

DM: Yeah, that’s what I do.

DI: What was your favorite sports team growing up – any sport, college or professional?

DM: Easy, the Chicago Bulls. You gotta love M.J. Every time they won the championship, it got crazy.

DI: Over the summer, when the Illini were playing in Canada, you and Chester played side-by-side. What were the benefits of that?

DM: That felt real good, having two guards that could bring the ball up. We can get transition buckets when we do that.

DI: When Chester comes back, you think that could work again?

DM: Yeah, I think we could do it, and it would help us on defense with two big guards.

DI: With all the minutes you’re getting now, what do you think you’re showing coaches that you didn’t get a chance to before?

DM: I’m more consistent. Like earlier in the year, I would play a game or two really good then I wouldn’t practice as hard as I should have. Now, I’m going hard out there everyday and practicing hard every day.

DI: You’re showing us, the coaches, the fans different things, but what are you showing your teammates?

DM: I’m putting good leadership qualities out there. I’m working hard with coach Weber every day. I just want to be the leader of the future.

DI: Is it still possible to salvage this season?

DM: All we got to do right now is go 4-4 in conference, just go into the Big Ten tournament and do well. And if we win there, we automatically get a bid into the NCAA tournament.

DI: So you need to go on a pretty good run?

DM: Yeah. For right now, that’s what needs to happen.

DI: Have you ever wanted to be on a game show?

DM: You know, a little bit. Everybody has those dreams sometimes. So, yeah, I would.

DI: Which one? Which game show?

DM: It really don’t matter as long as I get on one. There are a few. But it really don’t matter.

DI: Your opinion of the Rose Bowl?

DM: I really didn’t get to watch much of it, but the guys, they played hard and fought. They made it to the game and showed how good they can be.

DI: So Alex Legion and Crandall Head both gave commitments to play for the Illini over break. Legion for next season and Head for 2009-2010. How does that affect your role in the future?

DM: It don’t affect my role at all. Alex is a good player, but I can’t talk about Crandall since he isn’t here yet. But I’m really glad Alex came here. Me and him have trained in the summer time for the AAU teams, junior year before we committed.

He’s expecting a lot out of me, and I’m expecting a lot out of him.

DI: So there’s a little rivalry there?

DM: Yeah, and we’re really good friends off the court too.

DI: Where’d you learn to play ball?

DM: On the West Side of Chicago when I was about four. I used to play bitty ball out there.

DI: Bitty ball?

DM: Yeah, that’s like the little kids playing basketball. We were playing on real rims, but they’d just lower them.

DI: Who was your biggest competition when you were four?

DM: These other small kids from around the block, in the community. It was just like everybody would come out and play this in-house league.

DI: You went to St. Joseph’s, you were coached by Gene Pingatore. You have to have seen Hoop Dreams.

DM: Oh, I’ve watched that movie a thousand times. It was a real good movie. Pingatore got the best out of Williams Gates and Arthur Agee. He’s a real good coach. He gets players to get to another level.

DI: What’d he get out of you?

DM: He got a real good player. And he got himself another plaque, a player to go to a Big Ten college.