Top-tier talent once again will highlight the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout, which for the first time will be a two-day event.
Pairings for the fourth annual basketball extravaganza, scheduled for Feb. 2-3 at the Panther Dome, were released Tuesday.
The field will feature Belleville West (5-1), which will play a Southwestern Conference game against O’Fallon on Feb. 2 before closing the competition with a game against St. Louis power Webster Groves, the defending Missouri Class 5A state champion, on Feb. 3.
West has one of the most sought-after recruits in the Midwest in 6-foot-7 junior forward EJ Liddell, who is averaging 24.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 5.8 blocks. Liddell has scholarship offers from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa, DePaul, Iowa State, Marquette, Saint Louis University and Illinois State.
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Senior Malachi Smith, a 6-3 transfer from Belleville East who has signed with Wright State, is averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Maroons. Keith Randolph, a 6-7 junior, and Lawrence Brazil III, a 5-11 junior, also have sparked West.
Cory Patton, the assistant athletics director at O’Fallon and one of the event organizers, finds something intriguing about all the matchups. But the best might be West against Webster Groves.
“Belleville West, in our eyes, is the best team on this side of the river,” he said. “And Webster Groves is the best team on that (Missouri) side of the river. It’s top-ranked talent against top-ranked talent. That’s going to be a fun, fun matchup.
“That’s not to take anything away from the Chaminade-Chicago Curie game, which is going to be a heck of a game, too. Chaminade’s got talent and has the (Jericole) Hellums kid, and Curie’s got a heck of a lot of talent.”
Webster Groves, led by former Waterloo coach Jay Blossom, is powered by Carte’Are Gordon and has a lineup that eventually will welcome back Courtney Ramey.
The 6-9 Gordon has signed with Saint Louis University. The 6-4 Ramey verbally committed to Louisville last February but has since decommitted. He broke his wrist in November but is expected to be active again for the Shootout. Before committing to Louisville, he had offers from Missouri, Ohio State, Purdue and Texas.
Other top players in the Shootout include:
▪ Torrence Watson, of Whitfield, a Missouri recruit who averaged 26.5 points and sank 41 of 44 free throws in the Warriors’ first four games.
▪ Hellems, of Chaminade. The 6-7 Hellems has signed with North Carolina State.
▪ Marquis Walker, Maurice Commander, Treavon Martin and Tyree Martin, of Chicago Curie, which won the Class 4A state title in Illinois in 2016. Walker has offers from DePaul, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Iowa State and Kansas. Commander is being recruited by several mid-major programs as a point guard.
▪ Francis Okoro, of Normal West, ranked the No. 1 player in Illinois in the class of 2019. The 6-9 Okoro has offers from Illinois, Alabama, DePaul, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Purdue and Vanderbilt.
▪ Cardell McGee and Karl Wright, of Springfield Lanphier. The 6-4 McGee, a senior, has offers from DePaul, Illinois State and Tennessee-Martin.
▪ Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran, of Bolingbrook, which returns four starters from last season and added a key transfer. Bolingbrook has been in the Shootout in each of its four years.
▪ Twins Armon and Amir Brummett, of Decatur MacArthur. Amir will play football at Northern Illinois; Armon is being recruited in football and has offers from Northern Illinois and Illinois State.
“We’ve got three of the top four-ranked juniors in the state of Illinois,” said Patton, referring to Liddell, Okoro and Walker.
Patton likes the idea of the Shootout being held over two days.
“We’ve been wanting to do that for a couple of years,” he said. “It worked out well. Seven games in one day is a lot. If we can get two evening events, in my eyes, that works better than seven games in one day. We’re excited. It’s going to be a great Saturday evening.”
At a Glance
The schedule for the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout is as follows:
Friday, Feb. 2
- Jennings vs. Decatur MacArthur, 5:30 p.m.
- O’Fallon vs. Belleville West, 7 p.m.
- Pinckneyville vs. Whitfield, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 3
- O’Fallon vs. Normal West, 4 p.m.
- Bolingbrook vs. Springfield Lanphier, 5:30 p.m.
- Chaminade vs. Chicago Curie, 7 p.m.
- Belleville West vs. Webster Groves, 8:30 p.m.
Ticket information will be announced soon.