The Assembly Hall normally plays host to men's and women's basketball, among other events throughout the year. However, for the past four years, the Assembly Hall has been the venue for an event that showcases some of the best high school talent in the state of Illinois. This year is no different, and to go one step better, there are teams from 2 other states involved. The main focus of the shootout is to bring in the players and teams that the Illini have either recruited or are on their radar in terms of being looked at. The shootout was given an extra measure of credibility when former Illini star and current Utah Jazz player Deron Williams lent his name to the event.
In the first game of the shootout, Rich South defeated Champaign Central 53-47 in a game that was tight all the way through. Central is one of the local teams, and features a sophomore by the name of Jay Simpson that is already committed to play at Purdue. Rich South, who was missing their star Crandall Head, younger brother of former Illini Luther Head, played pretty well without him. Crandall is committed to the Illini and will join them next season along with a couple other players competing in the shootout.
The second game of the day featured a couple of teams, one with strong ties to Coach Bruce Weber. Glenbrook North, who produced Jon Scheyer, now at Duke, is coached by Bruce's younger brother David Weber. One of the better players for Glenbrook just happens to be Weber's son, Austin. (Yep, Bruce's nephew). This was a low scoring affair, with the Spartans coming out on top over Peoria Notre Dame 41-23. Glenbrook North moves to 8-0 and has one of the better teams in the state in Class 4A and also feature Jordan Liss and Alex Dragicevich, the latter of which is headed to Notre Dame next year to play basketball. The Irish have a decent player on their team as well, his name being Max Bielfeldt, and he led them in scoring with 8 points.
The third game of the day featured one team that needs no introduction to the state of Illinois, and the other one making their shootout debut. Peoria Manual, who was dominant back in the 90's, still is pretty good, and has produced countless talent to the Division 1 level. Many of those players have come to Illinois, among them Sergio McClain, Marcus Griffin, Frank Williams, and Jerry Hester. Marvin Jordan was one of the players to watch for the Rams, and he didn't disappoint, scoring 10 points. Bowman Academy, which hails from Gary, Indiana, has a superstar of their own in DeJuan Marrero, who lived up to his expectations as well by scoring 20. Marrero is only a sophomore, and at 6'5, still has a lot of growing to do. He is on the radar for the Illini as well. Bowman Academy defeated Manual 69-50 t0 stay perfect on the season.
Game four of the day featured the first overtime game of the shootout, a 68-62 victory by Chicago Mt. Carmel over Peoria Central. Mount Carmel features an Illini commitment, Tracy Abrams, who is a 6'1 junior. Abrams has been on the radar of the Illini for quite a while, and will be joining them in the class of 2011. Peoria Central features a young star in the making of their own in Antonio "Bobo" Drummond. Although Drummond didn't lead the Lions in scoring (2 other players each scored 16), he promises to be a good player and can even get better than he is now.
The fifth game featured another player that will be wearing the orange and blue next year for Robinson. Meyers Leonard, who stands 7'0 tall and will be joining fellow Illini junior Mike Tisdale on the front line next year. However, Rock Island, who played the Maroons, has a superstar in the making as well by the name of Chasson Randle. Randle, who is a junior, still has Illinois in his sights but won't make a firm commitment for a while yet. The Rocks defeated Robinson 58-53 behind 28 points by Randle. Leonard scored 16 for the Maroons, who are a much smaller school than their counterparts.
Game six of the day featured another local team, the Champaign Centennial Chargers, facing the Waukegan Bulldogs. Centennial, who is the defending Class 3A state champs, is off to another undefeated start and features a team loaded with talent. Rayvonte Rice, who is headed to Drake, is the real deal, and the folks in Des Moines, Iowa are lucky to be getting him. Also on the Chargers' roster is Jeff Johnson, who will take his game to Eastern Kentucky next year. Waukegan, who features yet another recruit for the Fighting Illini (notice a trend yet?) in Jereme Richmond. Richmond, who has been committed to Illinois since he was an eighth grader, has kept the commitment firm and despite some troubles that led to switching schools midway through high school, never wavered. Plus, his game has gotten better as well and should be a good fit for the Illini next year. The Chargers kept their unbeaten streak alive by defeating the Bulldogs as Rice scored 32 points to lead his team to victory. Richmond will look good in orange and blue as well next season.
The final game of the evening pitted two prep schools who have already played twice this season. Quality Education Prep from Winston-Salem, North Carolina took on Brehm Prep from Carbondale in a game that could have resembled a college game with the talent on the floor. The two teams played on Friday night, with Quality Education coming out on top in that one. Brehm lost their best player, James Siakem, due to several broken bones in his face. He is apparently headed to New York for surgery soon. Quality Education boasts a roster that most college teams would love to have with five players standing 6'8 or taller. Their marquee player is Quincy Miller, who may have the most talent of anyone in the shootout field. The Pharoahs play a national schedule, which could stand the reason why they are so talented. Brehm, who without Siakem, still only lost 76-74, made up for their star player's loss by getting 24 points from Bruce Barron in their defeat.
I think that the cupboard for Illini hoops in the near future looks pretty full and great things might be in store.