Before we get into Saturday's Demetri McCamey Show, let's delve into a little football talk.
As you might know, this is Illinois' biggest weekend of the recruiting season. With Signing Day looming on Feb. 4, this weekend wraps up the official visits.
Illinois expected 21 visitors to campus, but had only 19 as East St. Louis wideout Kraig Appleton and Louisville Male cornerback Justin Green didn't make it. While I don't know Green's situation, I think it's fair to say Appleton's absence suggests he won't become an Illini. That's a far cry from how it looked as long ago as July...but that's recruiting.
--Cornerback Patrick Nixon is enrolled and on campus. While the Florida native, who was part of last year's recruiting class, has yet to be cleared by the NCAA eligibility powers-that-be, Illinois should soon know his fate. If and when he's cleared, he'll be able to do spring ball and then be considered a true freshman for the 2009 season. It's fair to say he'd be an immediate contributor.
--It appears Aaron Gress, one of the two junior-college players to sign and enroll over break, will be tested initially at strong safety in hopes he can play alongside hard-hitting Donsay Hardeman. Gress, who played linebacker at College of the Sequoias in California, has multiple size listings on the net. One place lists him as 6-foot-2, 219 pounds while another says he's 6-foot, 205 pounds. One place lists him with 4.65 speed while the other says he's a 4.44 burner.
--Juice Williams reports he used to have a sweet 3-point shot...until he started to hit the weights. I know, it's not really news, but it serves as a segue back into hoops and Demetri McCamey.
The sophomore point guard put on a show in Illinois' 64-57 win over the Badgers as he racked up a season-high 25 points and handed out 7 assists. What's ironic, or more likely coincidental, is that he put on a show on the same day the Jesse White Tumblers served as the halftime act.
McCamey, as it turns out, was part of the Jesse White Tumblers when he was 8-9 years old. He claims that his go-to move was a "Double Flip-Flop Flip-Flop Note"...at least that's what it was if I heard him correctly.
"I just liked jumping," McCamey said. "I was a hyper little kid, I guess."
When asked why he didn't stick with the tumbling, McCamey was his usual funny self:
"I was always caught up in traveling basketball and rec football and little things like that. I didn't have no place to fit it into my schedule. My mom was like, 'I'm not going to keep chasing you and running you everywhere wasting gas.'
In that vein, Bruce Weber has probably wondered a million times over the last 18 months whether he's wasting his breath trying to mold McCamey's athletic skills into a true player.
But as he showed again on Saturday -- not just with his offensive prowess but with his solid defense against Jason Bohannon (2 points) and others -- McCamey is becoming a force who could force his way onto the all-Big Ten team at season's end.
"(I'm getting better at) reading defenses and finding my shot and finding open teammate and just shooting the right shots," he said. "Just making sure I'm making the right play every time."
"I think he's trying in practice, he's trying to listen," Weber said. "He has his setbacks here and there, but overall I think he understands it better. What it takes with preparation. All of those things. He's starting to mature a little bit. But, again, he's got to do it again on Thursday (at Minnesota).
"Some of it, we've made him come in and he's been watching film. That's how you learn about yourself. And you've got to watch when you win or lose, because it's easy when you win."
Few other tidbits:
--Alex Legion played just 4 minutes because it just wasn't a game to put an inexperienced defensive player out there for too long. Wisconsin pounces on any little mismatch, such as in the first half when Weber tried to go small and had to put Trent Meacham on Joe Krabbenhoft. The Badgers went inside to Krabbenhoft on two of the four possessions when they had that matchup...and that led to 2 fouls and 4 points.
--Illinois shot 50 percent from the field for just the second time in Big Ten play. The Illini tried just 10 3-pointers, which was 1 off the team's low for the year when they went 1-for-9 at Purdue.
--Illinois went from having a season-high 13 steals against Ohio State to a season-low 1 steal against Wisconsin. The Badgers committed just 7 turnovers...and two of them were 35-second shot-clock violations.