For most freshmen athletes, moving to a big-time basketball program is a major adjustment from high school. And for the Illinois freshman point guard, Demetri McCamey, he is learning to overcome that hurdle while on the job. "Right now everybody is going really hard. Playing everyday with these guys helps me with my game. We're all anxious to get going and show what we can do," said McCamey.
Being able to contribute as a true freshman takes a special kind of player, not only one with talent but also one who is willing to do the work in the off-season to make himself better, as McCamey did. "The first thing is having the confidence and knowing you can compete. I love to compete. That's all I know how to do, if I can do that, I'll be very happy. I set a personal goal and that was to come down here and challenge for a starting spot on this year's team. But if I don't, then I have to look at what's best for our team and if that means me coming off the bench then that's what I'll do. I can be that spark-plug," McCamey said.
Demetri will be counted on to handle the ball for this year's Illini squad. He will also be counted on to help overcome one potentially glaring weakness of the team: the lack of outside shooters. Just like anything else with McCamey, he's put in the extra hours to better that part of his game. "I worked on shooting the basketball everyday. Me and Chester would come here together and work on our game. People are going to be surprised, because Chester has worked so hard on his shot and it's so much better than it was before," said McCamey. While he is encouraged by the progress made by the point guard, Demetri recognizes others on this team will be counted on to keep defenses honest. "It's not just going to be about me and Chester, we have other guys on the team that can hit shots, Brian Randle can knock down threes. We're going to be okay, everyone is healthy right now so that's going to help keep us within reach our goal of winning the Big Ten," he said.
"This is my first year in the Big Ten. I watched the teams play last year when I could, and I think we can challenge anyone in the conference and the country this year. That's how I feel. We have some really good players down here, we're definitely more athletic than last year, and we haven't had any distractions on or off the court and that's going to be big in the long run," said Demetri.
McCamey, the former St. Joseph HS, Westchester, IL star, was a four-star recruit and considered here at Scout.com as the nation's 10th best point guard in the Class of 2007.