Belleville West senior EJ Liddell has earned another chance to compete against the best high school and college players in the nation.
The reigning Mr. Basketball in Illinois and Gatorade Illinois Player of the Year last season, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Liddell has been invited to and will compete in the prestigious Nike Skills Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
The Nike Skills Academy will be Aug. 8-12, and will feature 30 of the top high school players as well as 25 of the top college players in the nation.
Ranked as the No. 35 recruit in the nation by ESPN and No. 39 by Rivals.com, Liddell has enjoyed a successful summer. After helping lead Belleville West to the Class 4A state title in March, Liddell had a strong showing at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia in June. He also played well as member of the St. Louis-based Bradley Beal Elite Team at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., last month.
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Liddell currently has scholarship offers from several college programs, including DePaul, Florida, Georgetown, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette, Missouri, Ohio State, Purdue, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Saint Louis University, Texas A&M, Connecticut and Wisconsin.
Duke and Indiana have also reportedly shown interest in Liddell.
Champs open at Washington tournament
The defending Class 4A state champion Belleville West Maroons will head north once again to begin their 2018-19 season.
Led by Liddell, along with standouts Keith Randolph and Lawrence Brazil, the Maroons will compete in the National Classic as part of the Washington Tournament of Champions, Nov. 20-24 at Washington High School.
The trip to the Washington Tournament of Champions is the second straight for Belleville West, which advanced to the title game a year ago before losing 84-74 to Sam Houston Math and Science. The Maroons finished 32-2 and ended their season with a 60-56 win over Chicago Whitney Young in the Class 4A state title game.
The Washington Tournament of Champions will consist of two events: the National Classic and the Washington Invitational.
Teams in the National Classic will include Belleville West, Houston Cy-Fair Learning Center, Urbana High School, Rayville High School, Mobile LeFlore High School, St. Louis Christian Brothers College High School, Sumter Lakewood High School and Chicago Leo High School.
Rayville won the Louisiana Class 2A state title a year ago and finished 38-0. Further team, player and schedule information for the Washington Tournament of Champions will be released next week.