Weber: Outside Factors Affecting McCamey

Everyone experiences slumps; they are a part of life. All basketball players have ups and downs during any given season, so Demetri McCamey's recent slump should surprise no one. But when his coach Bruce Weber includes the influence of runners for agents, family and friends as factors in his point guard's slump, it is important news.

When asked about point guard Demetri McCamey's recent slump, Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber told ESPN he included outside influences as factors in the slump.

"I feel bad. He was playing so well. Then the runners, the agents, the third-party people are all telling him he's an All-American, and he stopped coming in to work hard and spend extra time on his shot and all the things he needs to do. We're telling him to give us a five month commitment and put more time in, and they are telling him how great he is. It screws up kids.

"One of the worst things you have to deal with in college basketball is the outside influences, the third parties, the agents, the runners, whatever. It's sad, honestly."

Illini football coach Ron Zook is aware of it. Alabama football coach Nick Saban has complained publicly. When an athlete appears poised to make millions in his professional sport, everyone wants a piece of the action. Agents send runners to bend ears so their bosses will become the contract negotiator for the athlete.

McCamey began to attract these leeches last year, but these problems have been prevalent a long time in college basketball according to Weber, who expanded on the problem with WDWS radio Saturday.

"It's nothing new. It's in football. Thad Matta (Ohio State basketball coach), that's all he talks about. When we had Dee (Brown) and Deron (Williams), I had to have a meeting with Deron's mom.

"We had to stop the players from coming out on the court. One, there were so many autograph seekers at that time. But the whole court was lined with runners and agents. The kids wanted to come and hug their mom and dad and sign an autograph or two, but you don't want it to become a distraction. Every kid is different, and different families deal with it differently."

McCamey becomes complacent when he is complimented excessively. With all sorts of people giving him the glad-hand with ulterior motives in mind, Weber has been fighting an uphill battle to get him to work hard and sacrifice for the team.

"I'll be honest, I was trying to talk to Demetri a little bit because of what the people are telling him. That's not the only thing that got him in a slump. Kemba Walker (Connecticut) is in a slump. There's lots of people that get in slumps. It's a long season. But there's no doubt it's a factor in college basketball. In high school basketball it's a factor."

Weber says it isn't just the agents.

"The other end of it, it's not always the agents talking. It's also the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the friends. They're calling and telling him Weber should get you more shots. It becomes a distraction, there's no doubt.

"I was telling him, 'Get in the gym, work hard.' I know what it takes to get there. I've watched Deron. I've watched Glen Robinson. I've watched Brian Cardinal, Brad Miller, Dee Brown, on down the line."

School is also a distraction and requires much of a player's time.

"He wants to graduate. His mom just graduated last year. She worked very hard, went to night school. She wants him to graduate. If he does okay this semester, he only has his internship. Luther (Head), Brian Cook and some guys were able to get that done later. There's a lot of things on the plate. He has a future."

Of course, opponents have also contributed to McCamey's slump. They study his game looking for defenses that will work against him. After four years, they know him extremely well. Weber reminds McCamey to look for ways of expanding his game to compensate.

"Other teams play a role. They're double-teaming, they're hedging ball screens, all the things they're taking away. Now, Demetri can still have success by passing the ball and getting it to the open man.

"He'll get open shots if our flow is going, and if we're moving the ball. One of the things Demetri did was he didn't deal well with pressure, so you over-force things. Now you miss a couple, now it starts getting to be a little bit mental."

McCamey seemed to be back in focus at Minnesota, hustling on defense and pushing the ball offensively. If he remains level-headed, Weber says the Illini team will benefit.

"The thing is, if Demetri plays well we're gonna be good. The goal of being in the NBA is a great goal to me because if you work hard you can have some success.

"I loved his energy the other night on both ends of the court. That was positive. Can he come and play that well all the time? I hope so."

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