Demetri McCamey returned to Illinois for his senior season in part to solidify himself as a first-round NBA draft pick.
According to McCamey, he’s close to achieving that goal.
“I got great feedback, and it’s looking like I’ll definitely be a first-rounder,” McCamey said Thursday at the draft combine at Attack Athletics on the Near West Side. “But you don’t want to let off the gas. Each and every workout, you want to prove you belong.”
McCamey — projected as a second-round pick by draftexpress.com (48th overall) and nbadraft.net (51st) — said he worked out with the Wizards and has a workout scheduled with the Bulls on May 31. Last year, when he entered the draft before withdrawing, NBA personnel told McCamey he needed to work on his defense.
“Today, I shut a couple of people down, especially some of the quicker guards that I faced,” McCamey said. “I’m showing that speed and quickness, something I showed at the beginning of senior year (before) it slowed down a little bit at the end of the year. I’m showing everybody I can move.”
He said he has slimmed down to 198 pounds. Illinois coach Bruce Weber talked to McCamey in Chicago and encouraged him to keep up his conditioning.
“It makes him quicker, more explosive and gives him better endurance,” Weber said. “That was the one thing (scouts) wanted to see.”
No hard feelings: Jereme Richmond and Weber put to rest any talk about lingering tension after Richmond abruptly departed for the NBA. According to Richmond, they shared a big hug.
“He takes his job very seriously, but he takes being a great person even more seriously,” Richmond said.
Richmond had off-the-court issues at Illinois, missing practices and sitting out two NCAA tournament games for breaking team rules. He said he is honest when teams ask about his past.
“Nine times out of 10, they already know the answer anyway,” Richmond said. “They want to see if you’re going to be straightforward and own up to your mistakes.”
Diaper dandy: While DeAndre Liggins said he would have contemplated entering the draft anyway, fatherhood made it a no-brainer.
“My family changed my thoughts,” said Liggins, who left Kentucky after his junior season. “It gives me extra motivation to play harder and do all the right things.”
Liggins visited his 3-month-old son, Bracyn, who lives with his mom in Cincinnati, between workouts. He admitted to being a defter defender than diaper changer.
“I hated it, but I’ve got to do it,” he said.
Liggins, who attended Washington High School, would prefer not to be drafted by the Bulls.
“I’d like to be away from Chicago,” he said. “It’s tough to get out of Chicago and make it. There’s so many people who don’t want to see you make it.”
Buzz clone: Marquette forward Jimmy Butler acknowledged he sounded just like coach Buzz Williams. And he said that’s a good thing.
“(I want to show teams) just how tough I can play,” he said. “Guarding is a big thing for me, and that’s how I can compete. That’s Buzz to the max.”
Butler’s stock rose with Marquette’s surprising Sweet 16 run and his strong performance at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational. He is expected to be drafted in the second round.