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Home finale tonight for Illini's McCamey
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

Illinois' Demetri McCamey (32) drives against Kent State's Tyree Evans (0) during the first half of an NIT second-round college basketball game in Champaign on Monday.

 

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Published: 3/24/2010 12:00 AM

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Regardless of whether Illinois wins Wednesday's NIT quarterfinal against Dayton, it serves as the Illini's final home game of the season.

And it may turn out to be junior point guard Demetri McCamey's final appearance at Assembly Hall.

After stacking up 15.1 points and 7.0 assists per game this season - he ranks second nationally in the latter category - the 6-foot-3, 200-pound St. Joseph's High School product seems a lock to test his NBA Draft worthiness.

What might happen after he throws his name in the mix?

"Who knows? I might be back. I might go," McCamey said Monday after Illinois' 17-point win over Kent State. "At the same time, I'm just trying to prepare for the future and worry about Illinois basketball and let everything else fall in place and win an NIT championship. Then you can worry about your own future."

Illinois coach Bruce Weber already has taken steps to educate McCamey and his mother, Sabrina Watson, about the early-entry process.

They met three or four weeks ago in Weber's office to discuss the nuts and bolts. Then, during a recent drive from Champaign to Chicago for recruiting purposes, Weber spent much of the ride discussing the process further with Watson.

"We'll put his name into the advisory (committee)," Weber said. "We should just so he knows where he's at, whatever the situation. I kind of know already, but we'll use it as information and as education."

NBAdraft.net, the premier NBA mock draft site, doesn't list McCamey as either a first- or second-round pick on June 24. That seems to be the blogosphere's consensus.

But there's a homemade blog entitled "NBA Draft Room" that bucks the trend and projects McCamey as a lottery pick.

McCamey says he doesn't place much stock in the Web sites.

"Everybody has their own opinion about things," McCamey said. "The only people that know are GMs and scouts for the NBA teams. You can't look on those (mock draft) boards and get real happy or be sad that you don't see your name, because only the GMs and scouts know."

McCamey won't have much time to prove or disprove the decision-makers' impressions. In years past, early-entry candidates had until mid-June to show their wares.

This year, the NCAA pushed up the deadline to May 8.

"You just hope kids don't make mistakes," Weber said.

When asked to evaluate his NBA readiness, McCamey sounds like he pegs himself somewhere between high school teammate Evan Turner (a certain top 4 pick) and undrafted free agent.

"I think I fit pretty well," he said. "But at the same time, I'm not looking at it. If it does come up, that's a decision me and Coach Weber have to come upon with my family and things like that.

"Right now, I'm just worried about Illinois basketball and trying to get to Madison Square Garden."

Dayton (22-12) at Illinois (21-14)

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday at Assembly Hall

TV: ESPN2

Radio: WIND 560-AM

Skinny: Mount Prospect native Brian Gregory brings his third-seeded Flyers to Champaign with a trip to the NIT's Final Four at stake. Between Gregory, sophomore forward Luke Fabrizius (Hersey) and senior guard Mickey Perry (Proviso East), there'll be a sizable Dayton contingent in the stands.

"I'm making sure they have to wear Flyer red instead of orange," Gregory said.

Dayton fans will leave happy if their team fulfills Bruce Weber's worst-case summation of the Flyers: A team that defends as aggressively as Purdue while running offensive sets similar to Michigan State.

Key matchup: This quarterfinal could come down to the battle of completely different power forwards. Slender 6-foot-9 Illini junior Mike Davis stacked up 16 points and 16 rebounds in Monday's second-round win. Dayton senior Chris Wright (13.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is an absurdly athletic 6-8, 226-pound who could be Davis' toughest guard of the year - and he needed to defend Wisconsin's Jon Leuer and Ohio State's David Lighty on back-to-back Big Ten tournament days.

Advancement: The winner plays Texas Tech/Mississippi in the semifinals Monday at Madison Square Garden.

-Lindsey Willhite