Gandy''s just dandy
Considering he plays a high-profile position on an NCAA tournament team, Chris Gandy has managed to remain relatively anonymous.
"Oh yeah, I'm a no-name," said Gandy, Illinois' starting center and second-leading scorer. "I'm one of those other guys from Illinois. Not Kiwane (Garris), one of the other guys."
Gandy went to Portsmouth, Va., last Tuesday hoping to create a new image for himself, to get the word out that there's another pro prospect at Illinois, in case you hadn't noticed.
"I thought he helped himself," said "Booty" Baker, who selects the college seniors who get invited to the Portsmouth Invitational. "He didn't do what some of them do – throw up a shot every time."
With 200 pro people watching, the 6-foot-9 Gandy scored 22 points, grabbed 25 rebounds and opened a number of eyes over three games.
National Basketball Association eyes, he says.
"The NBA guys kind of talk to you through people," Gandy said. "A couple of teams showed strong interest. One showed a lot of interest. Can't tell you who, but they've got two draft picks the second round."
Gandy played against some of the country's elite during the four-day event. Big Ten MVP Bobby Jackson was there, as were Iowa State's Dedric Willoughby (Gandy's teammate), and North Carolina-Charlotte's 7-2 Alexander Kuehl (Gandy guarded him).
"There were Kentucky guys, a lot of guys you hear about on TV," Gandy said. "It went great. You play a lot harder when you know people are watching, instead of playing at IMPE or something."
Gandy, who never thought of himself as a pro prospect until this year, isn't waving any "NBA or bust" banners around.
He's hoping for at least an NBA free agent tryout, but would be happy playing basketball for bread somewhere.
His next step: get an agent, which he's hoping Illinois coach Lon Kruger will help him do.
"Agents know about the stuff overseas," Gandy said.
A News-Gazette All-Stater and a Big Ten freshman-to-be stole the show at Sunday's Magic Johnson High School All-Star Game in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Iowa recruit Ricky Davis and Thornton's Melvin Ely shared MVP honors as Davis and the West bopped Ely's East 124-106 at the Palace.
Davis' 27 points were the most since Rasheed Wallace had 30 in the 1993 game. The Fresno State-bound Ely hit 11 of 13 shots (six were dunks) for 24.
Illini recruits Sergio McClain and Griffin started for the East side, coached by Wayne McClain, their coach at Peoria Manual.
Griffin had four points, a team-high six rebounds, a game-high five blocks, a blast.
"It was fun," he said. "It was like a block party again."
McClain hit 1 of 4 shots for two points, filling in at point guard for some of the game.
Other Big Ten recruits in action included Michigan State-bound Charlie Bell and Lorenzo Guess, and Penn State signee Greg Grays. All three scored 10 points.
Magic Johnson, on hand for the first time in three years, gave McClain's father a hand as honorary coach.
ESPN2 will air the game at 10:30 p.m. on April 14 and at 1 p.m. on April 16.
With two days to go until the NCAA's late signing period, nothing's new in Camdenton, Mo., hometown of 6-11 senior Jeff Carey.
Carey, who's considering Illinois, Kansas and St. Louis, plans to make a decision "sometime this week," his father Ray Bob said Sunday night.