Some of the top senior basketball players in the state will take the court Saturday at Alton High School for the first Upstate Illinois vs. Downstate Illinois All-Star Game.
The 7 p.m. game is sponsored by the Southwest Illinois Jets Basketball Club. Tickets are $5 each and the event includes a slam dunk contest and 3-point shooting contest.
Among the top players scheduled to compete are Springfield Lanphier's Larry Austin, the former Tennessee recruit who recently reopened his recruitment, and Texas A&M recruit Peyton Allen from Chatham Glenwood. Also on the Upstate roster is St. Louis University recruit Marcus Bartley from Decatur MacArthur.
The metro-east contingent of stars includes News-Democrat Class 3A-4A Player of the Year and Division I prospect Shawn Roundtree from Edwardsville, Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruits Armon Fletcher (Edwardsville) and Deion Lavender (Marquette), Missouri-Kansas City recruit Darius Austin (Cahokia), Drake recruit Carleton Rivers (Cahokia) and Drury recruit Trevor Clay (Edwardsville).
"The 2014 class is a really special group of kids in central and Southern Illinois," said Jets assistant director Dana Morgan, organizer of the event. "A lot of the kids played with the Jets or the Eagles or the Peoria Irish. It's going to get really competitive because when you think about it, it's always that debate of which area has the best brand of basketball.
"The guys are already getting into it and I think it's going to be a really fun event."
Also on the Downstate roster are Division I recruit Darreon Reddick (Belleville East), Kevin Renner (Althoff), Southwestern Illinois College recruit Detae McMurray (Alton) and Lewis & Clark recruit Mike Williams-Bey (Alton).
Reddick has offers from Tennessee State and Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
The Upstate roster includes Jalen Henry (Springfield Southeast), Michael Finke (Champaign Centennial) and Dedric Byrd (Centennial), Shea Feehan (Peoria Notre Dame) and Kam Rowan and Sean Suggs (Champaign Central). Henry has signed with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
The coaches are Cahokia High coach Darian Nash and Lanphier coach Blake Turner.
Two players will be added to each roster and Morgan said several other local stars had previous commitments to attend senior proms.
Morgan has been with the Jets for 12 years. He has seen other local and regional all-star games, but thinks this one has a unique angle since it matches different areas of the state.
"There hasn't really been anything in the area where you showcase these kids," he said. "You've heard about these kids and seen them play and read about them. This is probably the best group of kids that's come out of this area in a while collectively."