Illinois Men's Basketball: Which Player Can Lead This Team Next Year?

Jonah PulsCorrespondent IJune 4, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12:  Center Mike Tisdale #54 of the Illinois Fighting Illini stands on the court during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As many college basketball fanatics know, Illinois is expected to have a superb season next year.

There is only one way that can happen. Unlike last year, Illinois needs someone to step up when it really matters. When they are down, they need a player who is not afraid to take—and make—the big shot.

Most people expect Demetri McCamey to fill that role.

But he's not the guy.

Last year, McCamey was supposed to be the leader, but he wasn’t always there for Illinois. He stepped up huge in some games, but looked lost in his own world, dozing off into “McCamey Land,” in others.

McCamey did what he needed to sometimes, but he was not someone I consistently trusted game after game.

McCamey should not be the go-to guy next season.

A true leader supports his team at all times. Leaders give it their all every practice, every game, and every second.

McCamey was not that guy last year.

Yes, he has his moments. But what about the moments where he embarrassed himself, and the whole Illini nation?

McCamey's immaturity surfaced during his tremendously poor performance in a game against Wisconsin late last year. Instead of trying harder, he gave up on his coach, his team, and worst of all—himself.

Late in the game, McCamey turned the ball over, and was whistled for an intentional foul on the player who made the steal. Coach Bruce Weber quickly called a timeout. During the timeout, McCamey ran into Weber after being benched.

It was the worst showing of disrespect I have ever seen.

(Check out the YouTube video at the bottom to see what occurred.)

This is just one of the many reasons why I don't see McCamey as Illinois' go-to guy.

We need better.

That leads to a question that will be lingering into the next season: Which player needs to step up for the Fighting Illini next year?

Now, onto my candidate for this season's team leader—Mike Tisdale.

I am confident that he can lead this team. Last year, Tisdale was inconsistent on the court, but I was always in favor of his attitude.

He was never involved in any “McCamey vs. Weber” type of drama.

He never disrespected the coaches.

And he never gave up on his team.

Also, his hard work during the offseason has been noticed. Tisdale has spent long hours in the weight room adding muscle to his frame.

He has also been working hard with a nutritionist, looking to gain weight before the season begins.

He is consuming 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day, which has led to Tisdale gaining 17 pounds since the end of last season.

Tisdale must work extremely hard for everything because he could easily be thrown around with his lack of weight and strength, but his drive to add bulk has proved his determination.

He is working towards the ultimate goal for Illinois next season, which Tyler Griffey posted on his locker after their loss to Dayton.

Houston 2011.

Those are some of the most obvious differences I see between Tisdale and McCamey. The drive to do better is more apparent in Tisdale, which he has shown numerous times already this summer.

Please, don’t get me wrong, the whole team must contribute for this team to be successful next season. But Tisdale needs to be the leader, the boss, and the captain of this team.

Tisdale holds the key to success in his hands.

It all starts now, during the most important time of the year—the offseason.

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