Demetri McCamey Seeking A New Level

Demetri McCamey (Holly Smith)

The Fighting Illini basketball team has high hopes for an outstanding 2009-10 season. With most of their players returning and the addition of four talented freshmen, much is expected. It will be up to upperclassmen like Demetri McCamey to lead the way. Now back in school for the fall, McCamey is taking basketball more seriously than ever before.

Speaking after an individual workout with the Illinois coaching staff, junior point guard Demetri McCamey is happy with the beginning of the school year and the prospects for the basketball season.

"It's good to get back to action and seeing the guys again, getting back into normal workouts and pushing yourself to have a successful season."

He says the fall is better than the summer for him.

"This is fun. In the summer, you just have an open gym and you're tired of playing against the same guys. When the season comes, you get more hyped, you get the freshmen enrolled and get ready for the season."

What expectations does Coach Bruce Weber have for McCamey?

"A special year. He wants me to get recognition and show how I am as a player and get Illinois back to the top. Hopefully, we won't get out the first game of the NCAA Tournament. Just play basketball. They look to me to be a leader, step up and do the things Chester (Frazier) did last year."

McCamey realized he needed to lose weight and get in better shape. To that end, he planned a rigorous summer workout school for home as well as campus.

"Just running and shooting every day. I was working out twice a day with a couple overseas guys back home, just getting in better shape."

The Westchester St. Joseph product has reduced to a svelt 198 pounds through hard work and taking better care of his body. His quickness and endurance are noticeably improved.

"Most definitely. I've improved my vertical too, so I can jump like high school again. I just feel in better shape and ready for the season."

McCamey idolizes Utah Jazz and former Illini great Deron Williams, who participated in pickup games with the Illinois varsity Thursday and Friday. He wants to emulate the traits that allow Williams to achieve so much success, so he enjoyed playing with him.

"It was real good. Unfortunately, we were on the same team, so we didn't have any one-on-one battles."

What makes Williams special?

"Just the way he is aggressive all the time. He doesn't take any plays off, so he attacks, attacks, attacks. He don't like to lose. He's just a warrior. He's trying to win every game. He wants everybody to know he's the best player in the gym."

McCamey and Williams talk smack with each other all the time, but it is just good, clean fun.

"We're just two good players. If you're a player, that's what you do is talk trash. But whether you win or lose, we still have respect for each other. He's a player, and that's what I'm trying to get to. I practice to be the best. I always feel I have an edge on my players. That's just personal within myself."

When they aren't competing, Williams serves as a mentor to the eager learner McCamey.

"Most definitely. He tells me I'm already a good shooter, attack the basket. Let the other people see the rest of your game. Don't just be a jump shooter, be a basketball player."

McCamey likes what he sees from new freshmen D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Joseph Bertrand and Tyler Griffey.

"Most definitely. We need those guys to step up because we lost like 61 minutes between Chester and Trent (Meacham). It's just having them get experience with us and carrying on. Because if you show the freshmen how to do it, they're gonna be a big shot on that big stage at the Assembly Hall."

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