All the talk about Illinois junior guard Alex Legion being a sharpshooter seemed like just recruiting hype until the Orange and Blue intrasquad basketball scrimmage Sunday.


Overshadowed by emerging freshmen guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul in the season’s first eight practices, Legion was 11-for-15 from the field and 6-for-8 from the 3-point line for 28 points in a series of four 8-minute games at Assembly Hall, where a final score wasn’t kept.

All the talk about Illinois junior guard Alex Legion being a sharpshooter seemed like just recruiting hype until the Orange and Blue intrasquad basketball scrimmage Sunday.

Overshadowed by emerging freshmen guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul in the season’s first eight practices, Legion was 11-for-15 from the field and 6-for-8 from the 3-point line for 28 points in a series of four 8-minute games at Assembly Hall, where a final score wasn’t kept.

“It’s about time,’’ Illini guard Demetri McCamey said. “He can shoot with the best of them. Some will say last year that he didn’t make a shot to save his life.’’

This is the Legion everyone expected when the former Parade All-America transfered from Kentucky, but he’s been misfiring while also struggling with other elements of his game. If he makes shots, it’s harder to keep Legion off the floor.

Admittedly, Illinois coach Bruce Weber also was wondering if Legion ever would find the basket.

“At Illini Madness, we were just rolling our eyes,’’ Weber said about the opening of practice. “He missed a layup, shot an airball. He hasn’t really shot it consistently. Today, he got hot. He made his last shot. I told the coaches to get him out of there so he can feel good about things.

“One thing we talked about, just catch and shoot the ball. He tries to do too much, then he misses a shot, then he tries to put it on the floor. He’s got to be a catch-and-shoot guy. Just relax a bit. It was a good confidence builder for him.’’

McCamey had 16 points, 11 assists and one turnover in the scrimmage, which attracted a crowd of about 4,500. Mike Tisdale and Dominique Keller each scored 21. Mike Davis had 17 points and 10 boards.

Richardson, a freshman who played high school ball at Central before he transferred to a prep school in the Las Vegas area, scored 18. So did fellow freshman Paul.

Legion enjoyed his breakout game even if it was just a scrimmage.

“I hit a couple shots in here,’’ Legion said. “I waited all year to come out and do it. It’s a pretty good feeling.’’

The next challenge is for Legion to duplicate it.

Illinois plays host Friday night to Division II Missouri Southern in the first of two exhibition games, the first real opportunity for Weber to begin picking the top eight or nine players for the rotation.

“It’s going to change every day,’’ Weber said. “One thing is we have a lot of depth. Alex shined today. The other day, it was D.J. It’s going to be a lot of different people.’’

McCamey showed off his lighter frame, better attitude and more aggressive game.

“He’s playing like you hoped he could,’’ Weber said. “Now he has to play without the ball. We have to have him figure out ways to get involved when he doesn’t have the ball.’’

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.