Weber Helping McCamey With NBA Decision

All college basketball players dream of leaving school early to turn pro. Leaving after one or two seasons is rare but special. Leaving after no more than three years is a badge of honor, while returning to college for a senior season is an embarrassment to many. Illini Demetri McCamey is wrestling with these issues, and his college coach is helping him make the best decision.

Illinois point guard Demetri McCamey has a decision to make. His college coach Bruce Weber is doing everything he can to help him decide wisely.

"We put his name into the (NBA) advisory committee," Weber stated at his press conference Wednesday. "We'll get a feedback in 10 days to two weeks.

"You couldn't send that in until the season was over, so we had to wait until we got done last week. I talked with him a month ago. I've talked to people I know, NBA people and agents, just so I have a feel for our own education process so I can help him and help his mom."

Weber explains that a group of experts from pro teams will provide an evaluation for McCamey that will include where he might go in the next NBA draft.

"From what I know, at least ten different teams have guys that have been in the league for a long time and have everyone's confidence. They give their appraisal. They talk to other people.

"I talk to guys. One guy called three other teams and came back with what these people think. They all do that. They all know each other, they work with each other, they're brothers, cousins, whatever. They sit with each other at games like we do in college. They'll get back to us and tell us where they see him.

"They'll come back...are you a lottery pick? Are you end of the first round, maybe second round? Are you second round or probably not draftable? I suppose with some kids, there's no way you're gonna get drafted."

Weber is experienced with the process.

"We went through this with Deron (Williams) and Dee (Brown). At first with Deron, it was somewhere middle of the first to the end. Then he had the great finish, and now it was zero to 10. At zero to 10, it's a no-brainer. You put your name in and you're going.

"For Dee, it was always second round, and the first time maybe not at all. This is not us talking, this is them. It's not agents talking, it's the people making the decisions. You hope they take the feedback and trust it."

Weber is making sure McCamey doesn't get swayed by agents and others who may not have his best interests at heart. McCamey's mother also plays an important role.

"I met with him twice this week. We again reemphasized what we were talking about with that committee so we know communication is good there. He talked to his mom when he was home. I asked him what she said, and he said, 'Listen, communicate with Coach about what's going on. Go through the process.'

Early reports have not been favorable for McCamey turning pro. Despite an outstanding junior season, most draft experts list him as a late second rounder at best. Some exclude him entirely. Is McCamey saying he would need to be a solid first round pick to leave college early?

"Yeah. Demetri is a smart kid, and he's been around. I think there's a few people up there in town (Chicago area), former coaches and things, that are talking to him. They know.

"Demetri can be emotional at times and can go a little bit this way and that way, but the end result (is usually good). We have a great relationship. We sit and talk, he knows right and wrong.

"He lets emotion get involved sometimes in games when he shouldn't, and he can make some strides there, but he's smart enough. Kids these days are savvy to what's going on now. With Internet and so many people involved, they have a better feel. I think he has a feel for where he sits."

Athletes are able to apply for the NBA draft and then withdraw their names after a certain length of time if their evaluations do not measure up to their dreams. But that time period has been shortened, reducing the value of the effort according to Weber.

"The question now is whether it is really worth it. We've had a couple guys that wanted to do it for publicity. I'm not sure the publicity is that worth it. Does it disrupt you, does it disrupt your team?

"We've just gotten some new info from the NCAA last week. Before, you couldn't work out with any team until your school was over, and you couldn't miss any days of school. Now I think there's a week where you could go work out, but you still can't miss school days. So it would have to be a Saturday and Sunday, and then that next Friday you'd have to pull yourself out.

"Maybe there's a chance that, if he put his name in, he could run with a couple teams to get a workout, get a feel of it and get a little bit of feedback. But like I've told him, there's 8-10 NBA teams that have watched him.

"You go back to practice and preseason. They've been at nonconference games, they were at Vegas. And they were all at Big 10 games and the Big 10 Tournament. I see them all the time, I know them and talk to them. So it's not like they haven't been around. They have a pretty good opinion about kids."

Those college basketball players destined for a fat NBA contract have tremendous seasons plus plenty of national exposure prior to the draft. That momentum is obvious and powerful.

But despite being named 1st team All-Big 10, McCamey hasn't enjoyed the same attention on a national level. He was recently excluded from a top 59 man All-American team. Weber was shocked to hear that.

"I didn't even know that. I'm surprised he wasn't some kind of honorable mention, when you are second in the nation in assists and one of the top players in the league."

Some players want stardom so badly they will ignore the warning signs. Until McCamey turns down the NBA draft officially, he might choose to leave school and take his chances. All Weber can do is provide sound guidance.

"We're gonna go through the process and see what happens, and he has to make a decision. He was in the weight room yesterday, he stayed and shot after our team meeting on Monday. He's saying all the right things, how next year's gonna be for him and our team."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories