Boys Basketball

USA Today recognizes Belleville West's Muniz, Liddell

Belleville West’s EJ Liddell is named Mr. Basketball in Illinois

Maroons junior EJ Liddell talks about being named Mr. Basketball in Illinois. He is the second Southwestern Conference player in two years to be given the award.
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Maroons junior EJ Liddell talks about being named Mr. Basketball in Illinois. He is the second Southwestern Conference player in two years to be given the award.

Belleville West boys basketball coach Joe Muniz and elite college prospect EJ Liddell on Monday were recognized by USA Today High School Sports and American Family Insurance for their accomplishments in the 2017-18 season.

Muniz was named Coach of the Year after leading the Maroons to a 32-2 record and a Class 4A state championship — West's first in basketball. Muniz has been West's head coach for 14 years.

West, which defeated defending champion Whitney Young 60-56 in the title game March 17 in Peoria, finished 14-0 in the Southwestern Conference.

Liddell, a junior, was named to the all-Illinois first team after averaging 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.9 blocks and 2.8 assists. Liddell previously was named Mr. Basketball in Illinois, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois and the Belleville News-Democrat's Large-School Player of the Year, in addition to landing on The Associated Press' all-state first team.

Liddell became West's career scoring leader (1,759 points) and single-season scoring leader (708 points). He shot 58 percent from the field (227 of 394) and 79 percent from the free-throw line (227 of 288).

247Sports ranks Liddell the second-best junior in Illinois and the 52nd-best prospect in the country. He has received scholarship offers from Illinois, Ohio State, Saint Louis University, Missouri, Northwestern, Florida, Kansas State, Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette, DePaul, Illinois State and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The Player of the Year was Talen Horton-Tucker, a 6-7 senior from Simeon High in Chicago. Tucker led the Wolverines (29-4) to their third consecutive Public League championship in Chicago. The Iowa State recruit averaged 23 points nine rebounds and six assists.

EJ Liddell
Belleville West junior EJ Liddell (left) has been named to the first team of the USA Today High School Sports/American Family Insurance boys basketball team in Illinois. Jimmy J. Simmons photo

Joining Liddell on the first team are Francis Okoro, a 6-9 junior from Normal West; Ayo Dosunmu, a 6-4 senior from Morgan Park in Chicago; and Javon Freeman, a 6-4 senior from Chicago Young.

Okoro averaged 15.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. He is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 junior in Illinois, and took an official NCAA-paid visit to the University of Illinois last weekend.

Donsumu is an Illinois signee who averaged 25.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists for the Mavericks, who won the Class 3A state championship.

Freeman, a Valparaiso recruit, averaged 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Members of the all-Illinois second team were: Tim Finke, a 6-7 senior from Champaign Central; Kendle Moore, a 6-0 senior from Danville; Ryan Davis, a 6-8 senior from Conant in Hoffman Estates; Zion Griffin, a 6-5 senior from Hinsdale South in Darien; and George Conditt, a 6-10 senior from Chicago Corliss.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665; @DavidMWilhelm