Boys Basketball

Belleville West basketball star Liddell nets offer from Ohio State

EJ Liddell, shown in Belleville West’s Highland Shootout game Saturday against Poplar Bluff, Mo., has received a scholarship offer from Ohio State University. It’s his 13th Division I offer.
EJ Liddell, shown in Belleville West’s Highland Shootout game Saturday against Poplar Bluff, Mo., has received a scholarship offer from Ohio State University. It’s his 13th Division I offer. Jimmy Simmons photo

Belleville West basketball star EJ Liddell on Wednesday received a scholarship offer from Ohio State University.

It’s the 13th offer for Liddell, a 6-foot-7 junior ranked by rivals.com as the 42nd-best prospect in the Class of 2019.

Liddell most recently was offered by Northwestern and Florida. He previously received offers from Illinois, Missouri, Saint Louis University, Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette, DePaul, Kansas State, Illinois State and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The Maroons, ranked No. 3 in the Class 4A state poll, are 14-1 overall and 6-0 in the Southwestern Conference. They will visit Collinsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Liddell is averaging 21.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.4 blocks and 2.5 assists. He is shooting 64 percent from the field (110 of 173).

Liddell continues to make improvement in all facets of his game. Maroons coach Joe Muniz said recently that a key for Liddell in the process will be to avoid becoming frustrated as teams guard him closely, and physically, in the paint.

Muniz briefly removed Liddell from the game Friday at Alton and had an extended talk with him on the bench when Liddell appeared to become upset after being fouled in the low blocks. Liddell returned moments later and quickly recorded a pair of blocked shots. He finished the game with nine blocks in a 65-40 win.

“EJ is getting it handed to him,” Maroons coach Joe Muniz said. “He may be dishing it out, (too), but he’s being played pretty physical. It’s the same thing (2017 graduate) Tyler Dancy and him have been dealing with for the last two, three years. They’re so big and strong and kids can just beat on them. They don’t get a whole lot of calls.

“I just want EJ to keep his composure. That’s the biggest thing. He’s got to learn to deal with that. He’s got to do a better job not reacting to a kid holding on to him — and just keeping his arms up and not whaling his arms. The official doesn’t see the first thing. They don’t see the first incident, they see the reaction. That’s what blows the whistle.”

Liddell said he doesn’t mind contact. Indeed, he expects it.

“I like getting bumped physically,” said Liddell, who at 228 pounds has the strength and agility to handle the rough stuff. “(Getting blocks) is just my job. If someone makes a mistake, I’m there to back them up and get the block.”

Liddell had 26 points and nine blocks Saturday as the Maroons bounced Poplar Bluff (Mo.) 68-51 in the Highland Shootout for their 11th straight win.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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