Best of Illini summer athletics

Illinois football players divulge favorite activities

With Illinois students citing their favorite summer activities, spots and culture, The Daily Illini spoke with Illinois football players about their summers both on and off the field.

Daily Illini – What is it like for a football player to be working tirelessly throughout the summer, only to find that Camp Rantoul was extended a week.

Juice Williams – It’s just something we got to do. I don’t think anyone wants to be away from home for three weeks in the blistering-hot sun. We know it’s going to help us out, we just have to make the best of the opportunity.

DI – It’s no secret that coach Zook loves water skiing during the summer. What do you do away from the field?

Brit Miller – 16-inch softball … Rahkeem Smith, surprisingly, can hit the crap out of the ball. For being as big as he was, I didn’t think he’d be able to get his shoulders through. Of course, Bo Flowers (a former Cubs and Tigers prospect) is good, being a baseball player. When I get out there, I like to pitch, play the field, get back to my glory days.

DI – Did the team have a favorite movie from the summer?

BM – It was from the beginning of the summer, but I think I’m going to have to go with ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall.’ It kind of reached our age group well, we saw it up here in Champaign, it was with all young college kids laughing. It was our kind of humor.

DI – What was your guys’ favorite summer spot in Champaign?

BM – The Roland pool was pretty awesome, but right now, dude, it’s the Monk, Fort Monk’s porch, (where some of the team lives). Our porch has a bug zapper, and, dude, there are some bugs getting lit up. I don’t know if that’s humane or not, but I love it.

A quotable few months for Illinois basketball

The summer is an interesting time in men’s basketball. Coaches are allowed limited contact with their own players, while they traverse the nation to evaluate the abilities of high school student-athletes sometimes as young as 14 years old.

Meanwhile, the players are left to hone their skills by themselves in pickup games and individual workouts on the court and in the weight room. The Daily Illini was able to give extended coverage of the Illini’s summer. Below is a collection of the best of the best quotes from team players and coaches.

“In a way, all of this stuff is voluntary, but at the same time they know if they don’t volunteer to do it, they’re probably going to be in trouble once we get into September, October.”

– Head coach Bruce Weber on summer workouts

“The combination to the (one of the door entry codes at Ubben Basketball Facility) is 16-19, so whenever you go in the (door) you’re constantly reminded of what happened last year. I think that’s kind of motivated the guys and emphasizes what happened last year.”

– Sophomore guard Alex Legion on Bruce Weber using last year’s disappointing 16-19 season as motivation

“Just making sure coming into the gym early, trying to be in here before everybody else, even though it’s hard because (Mike) Tisdale likes to be an hour early. I probably come thirty minutes early.”

– Sophomore guard Demetri McCamey on what he has done to assume a leadership role

“Not really. Rodney (Alexander) left, and Jeff (Jordan) can’t really dunk.”

– Sophomore forward Mike Davis on whether he will have any competition in the dunk contest at this season’s Midnight Madness

“I’m in the mindset that I’m going to be where God wants me to be. It’s not going to deter me from working hard or slow me down. It’s just kind of the reality. The work and the determination will pay off. Wherever I end up is where I’m supposed to be. I hope it’s in the NBA. I pray for it every night, so we’ll see.”

– Former Illini Brian Randle on his basketball future

“It’s kind of a crazy process. You never know what (NBA teams) are looking for, especially with second round picks, so I’ll just have to wait and see.”

– Former Illini Shaun Pruitt leading up to the NBA Draft; Pruitt went undrafted

“I wasn’t playing and we weren’t doing well, and it made me feel like crap. It was that ‘if we aren’t doing well and I’m not playing then I must really suck’ kind of feeling.”

– Former Illini Brian Carlwell on last year’s frustrations; Carlwell transferred to San Diego State

“He’s talked about coaching in the future. I said, ‘Here’s your chance to coach. You can grab these guys and go.’ A couple of guys have teased, ‘Coach Frazier had us doing this or that.’ So I think that’s good that he’s taken the team on.”

– Bruce Weber on senior Chester Frazier’s “coaching role” this summer

“I don’t want to make the expectations so high, but I feel he’s probably one of the best players in college basketball right now without even stepping on the court. I feel like if he just goes in and has a decent year he could probably be a lottery pick, in my opinion.”

– Sergio McClain on redshirt junior Jamar Smith, who turned himself in to authorities Tuesday afternoon after allegedly violating his probation.

“Hotels get old, and games get old.”

– Bruce Weber on being on the road recruiting for 20 days in July