NORMAL — When Jackie Carmichael went to Las Vegas last month, the Illinois State senior forward wasn’t trying to hit the jackpot.
Turns out he just might have anyway.
Carmichael’s play in the LeBron James Skills Academy caught the attention of NBA scouts and college basketball analysts. He was named by probasketballdraft.com as having one of the top three post games from the 25 college players attending, while Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis said Carmichael was “the biggest revelation” to NBA scouts.
“It meant that what I’ve worked for and put all the time in the gym is starting to pay off,” said Carmichael after an ISU individual workout last week at Redbird Arena. “I really looked at it as a blessing. Not everyone gets to go out there and showcase their talent.
“I knew a lot of them (scouts) did not know who I was. I kind of approached it with a big chip on my shoulder. I feel people should know who I am. I worked my best and tried to go my hardest when I was out there.”
Carmichael, who measured at 6-foot-8½ inches and 241 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, earned the invitation to Las Vegas based on his performance during the Amar’e Stoudemire camp for big men in Chicago in June.
James’ camp, which also included 80 of the nation’s best high school players, is usually held in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. However, it was moved to Las Vegas this year as the Miami Heat star and NBA most valuable player was practicing with Team USA before it departed for the London Olympics.
Carmichael was a second-team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection last season after leading the Redbirds with 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds. His 15 games with double figures in both points and rebounds led the Valley.
ISU coach Dan Muller said he has gotten positive feedback about Carmichael from NBA personnel people who were out in Las Vegas.
“He got exposure out of it, spent time with some of the best players across the country and was around some NBA All-Stars,” said Muller. “He got a little feel of what he may have to do and work on.”
ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted that Carmichael “had a very good week at LeBron’s … (and) played with strength and toughness.”
Muller has already seen that during ISU’s summer workouts.
“I knew Jackie was a great rebounder, but honestly he might be the best rebounder I’ve been around,” said Muller. “He really likes to rebound. That’s a great thing.”
Several 2013 NBA mocks drafts on the Internet have Carmichael being selected in the second round. An ISU player hasn’t been drafted since 1999 when Rico Hill was picked in the second round (31st overall) by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Carmichael said he is blocking out any talk about an NBA future and won’t let it affect his play this season.
“I’m blessed and humbled by that, but that just means I have to work that much harder because I’m not satisfied,” he said. “Right now it’s about the team and being able to win a (Valley) championship. The more success we have the better it works out for all of us.”
When Carmichael watches Team USA play for gold this weekend, he can tell his ISU teammates about the time he spent with King James.
“That was awesome. It was good to go there and learn from someone the ways of a big-time player,” said Carmichael. “He’s a guy I’ve idolized and has been a role model of mine since high school. It was a great experience.”