McCamey meets old friend Turner as Illini battle Buckeyes

An old high school friend will visit Illinois’ Demetri McCamey this weekend. But when Ohio State’s Evan Turner comes to Champaign on Sunday, the implications will be much different than they were when the two attended St. Joseph High School together in Westchester, Ill.

As seniors at St. Joe’s in 2007, the tandem led their team to a 25-5 record but fell just short of making the state tournament, losing to Derrick Rose’s Simeon High School in Super-Sectionals. Come Sunday, the two will be in the national spotlight at the Assembly Hall, when Illinois battles No. 13 Ohio State, as both try to stay within reach of a Big Ten title.

Illinois and Ohio State are both riding five-game winning streaks, are 9-3 in conference play and are tied with Michigan State for first place in the Big Ten.

Sunday’s contest will shuffle the conference standings, as well as McCamey and Turner’s rivalry.

“We are 2-2 against each other,” McCamey said of his rivalry with Turner.

“He beat me my freshman year. I beat him last year. We both are trying to break this tie and make sure our teams win.”

But Turner insists it’s all fun and games for them.

“Me and Demetri are brothers,” Turner said at Big Ten Media Day in October. “We’ve been through a lot together since we were 13, 14 years old. We are definitely brothers. We may not speak all of the time, but when we see each other it’s like we haven’t missed a beat. I’ve been through a lot of stuff with him, and I’ve been around him a lot. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

The two were in almost every class together freshman year of high school, and some days were glued to each other from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“We learned a lot about each other,” Turner said. “We learned so much about each other that we can stand being away from each other for so long.”

McCamey and Turner each lead their respective squads in scoring. McCamey leads the Illini with 15.8 points and 6.4 assists per game, while Turner sits atop the Big Ten with 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Although both have seen much of the national spotlight in recent weeks, Turner said he will try to remain grounded until the season concludes.

“I don’t think about the NBA until I’m doing homework at night,” Turner said prior to the season. “For the most part, I don’t think about it at all. I had the decision to leave, but I stayed.”

Freshman D.J. Richardson said he cannot wait to see where McCamey and the other Illini veterans will lead them down the Big Ten stretch.

“I think the upperclassmen and two seniors will help us be ready,” Richardson said.

For now, though, all of McCamey’s attention is focused on Turner.

“They’ll probably be a couple of text messages here and there talking trash,” McCamey said.