In just four years, the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout has established itself as a premier high school basketball event.
NBA superstar Jayson Tatum along with top teams such as Evanston, East St. Louis, St. Louis Chaminade, Normal West and Belleville West have visited the Panther Dome court.
The 2019 edition could be the best one yet. Seven-time Illinois state champion Chicago Simeon will play defending Class 4A state champion Belleville West in one of two marquee matchups at the two-day, seven-game shootout, Feb. 1-2 at O’Fallon High School.
“Just to mention those two teams right now, you really don’t have so say much more. It’s going to be a heck of a matchup,’’ said event organizer and O’Fallon assistant athletic director Cory Patton. “I don’t care what players Simeon has. It’s Simeon and I don’t think anyone around here has had them in quite a while ....
“When I called coach (Robert) Smith and told him that I could get them matched up with Belleville West, his response was ‘send me a contract.’ I know (West) coach Joe Muniz is also excited about it.’’
Chicago Whitney Young, which lost in overtime to Belleville West in the Class 4A state title game, will play highly-touted Iowa City West in the other marquee game on Feb. 2 beginning at 7 p.m. The West-Simeon game is set for 8:30 p.m.
Five other games featuring local teams Alton, O’Fallon, Collinsville and Triad are also on tap beginning on Friday, Feb. 1 when DuQuoin takes on Alton beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Belleville West will take on O’Fallon in a Southwestern Conference game at 7 p.m. with Collinsville playing Springfield Lanphier in the final game of the first day at 8:30 p.m. Action resumes on Saturday when St. Louis Christian Brothers College Prep School (CBC) takes on Normal West at 4 p.m. followed by O’Fallon playing the Triad Knights at 5:30 p.m.
This is the second year the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout has been a two-day event.
“It’s been a good event that continues to grow. I say it every year but we’re very fortunate to have a number of outstanding local teams such as Chaminade, East St. Louis, CBC, and the last couple of years with Belleville West. Plus, we’ve got the connection up north now with Simeon, Whitney Young, Morgan Park and Evanston,’’ Patton said. “ We were able to get the team from Iowa City because their coach and the coach from Evanston, who was here two years ago, are good friends. It’s a word of mouth type situation.
“We think that the shootout itself has brought attention through the state and midwest and people hear about it. People know about the Highland Shootot and the one in Kentucky and the Bass Pro Shops one. It’s been fun as people get to know about it and it continues to grow.”
Headlining the list of top players participating is the reigning Illinois Mr. Basketball and Ohio State recruit EJ Liddell of Belleville West along with Keith Randolph (ranked 69th in Illinois) and Tommie Williams, who is the No. 18 ranked sophomore in the state. Simeon has six played ranked players by Rivals.com including seniors Kejuan Clements (19th) and Antonio Reeves (23rd).
Whitney Young is led by senior Myles Baker (9th) and the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked juniors in the state in DJ Steward and Tyler Beard Iowa West is led by 6-9 senior Patrick McCaffery. The son of University of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, Patrick McCaffery is the No. 1 ranked player in Iowa and will join his dad next year with the Hawkeyes.
The large school state tournament runnerup a year ago, Iowa West also has the No. 2 ranked junior in the state in Evan Brauns. One player who will not be at O’Fallon will be Francis Okoro. One of the top players in the state a year ago, Okoro graduated from Normal West early and is at the University of Oregon.
Tickets will go on sale in early January. Patton said tickets will be priced at $7 for the three games on Friday, Feb. 1 and $10 for all four games on Feb. 2.. The address for on line ticket sales will be released in mid December.