Metro-east boys basketball fans will want to circle Feb. 7 on their calendars.
That's when the inaugural Bank of O'Fallon Shootout, a six-game extravaganza involving some of the top teams and players in Illinois and Missouri, will be held at the Panther Dome at O'Fallon High School.
"Highland runs a good shootout that we've been able to be a part of, and we've gone over to the Coaches vs. Cancer one (in St. Louis), which I don't think exists anymore," said O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson, the brainchild behind the new event.
"Eventually, we hope to be able to even expand it," he said. "That's our goal. We've already started contacting the teams for the 2016 event. We plan on making this a yearly thing and getting bigger every year."
The lineup for the shootout is:
*Columbia vs. Morris, 12:30 p.m.
* Vianney (St. Louis) vs. Maple Park Kaneland, 2.
* Collinsville vs. Normal, 3:30.
* Althoff vs. Westchester St. Joseph's, 5:15.
* O'Fallon vs. Bolingbrook, 6:45.
* East St. Louis vs. Chaminade (St. Louis), 8:15.
"We tried this first year to pair a local team with a team from out of the area," Gibson said. "We thought that would drum up a little more interest. Besides having the local teams here, we have some great teams from out of the area.
"It should be a great day and a great atmosphere."
Gibson estimated that there will be 25 Division I prospects participating in the event. Among them are:
*Tyler Seibring and Alex Peacock, of Normal.
* Emondre Rickman, of Collinsville.
* Jordan Goodwin, Brandon Gooch, Keenen Young and Tarkus Ferguson, of Althoff.
* Glynn Watson, Jordan Ash and Nick Rakocevic, of Westchester St. Joseph's, coached by the legendary Gene Pingatore, one of the stars of the popular 1994 documentary film, "Hoop Dreams."
* Donovan Franklin, Darien McClain and Chance Armstrong, of O'Fallon.
* Prentiss Nixon, Julian Torres, Brodric Thomas and Devon Sans, of Bolingbrook.
*Jeremiah Tilmon, of East St. Louis.
* Jayson Tatum, Tyler Cook and Will Gladson, of Chaminade.
The 6-foot-8 Tatum is the top-ranked player in the country for the Class of 2016, according to scout.com. He has offers from dozens of schools, including Kentucky, Duke, Florida and North Carolina, and is a projected lottery pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
Cook has offers from Kansas, Florida and Missouri, among others, and Gladson has been offered by Kansas, Illinois, St. Louis University, Missouri and Florida, to name a few.
St. Joseph's Watson, a 5-11 point guard, will sign with Nebraska, West Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee or Creighton. His teammate, Ash, has signed with Northwestern, while the 6-8 Rakocevic is rated the No. 2 prospect in Illinois.
East Side's Tilmon has received offers from Illinois and Kansas State, and has received interest from Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and St. Louis U.
O'Fallon's Franklin has received offers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is being recruited by several other Missouri Valley Conference and Ohio Valley Conference teams.
Collinsville's Rickman has been offered a scholarship by SIUE, which also has offered Normal's Peacock and Bolingbrook's Torres. Torres' teammate, Nixon, has signed with Colorado State.
"From stuff I've seen out of Chicago, they're ranking St. Joseph's two or three in the state, regardless of what class they're in," said Gibson, who expects Althoff to provide stiff competition. "Those could be two of the top (Class) 3A teams in the state. They could even be the top two in the state."
Morris is coached by Joe Blumberg, the son of former Freeburg coach Fred Blumberg.
Sponsors for the event still are being sought. Sponsorship packages are available at the $1,000 platinum level and the $500 gold level.
Businesses interested in becoming sponsors can contact Gibson by emailing him at email@example.com or by visiting ofallonsports.com/hoops and click the Bank of O'Fallon Shootout link.