By Troy Hayes
There have been plenty of high-profile high school athletes play in the 25-year history of the Collinsville High School Schnucks Holiday Classic.
East St. Louis Lincoln’s Cuonzo Martin was a two-time MVP, Lincoln High’s Joe Cook, Peoria Central’s A.J. Guyton and Shaun Livingston (two-time MVP), East St. Louis Lincoln’s LaPhonso Ellis and East St. Louis’ Darius Miles (two-time MVP) are just a few of the stars that passed through the tourney in the last quarter century.
This year there promises to be a few more.
Walton (Marietta, Ga.) has two Division I locks in former Michigan State and NBA star Glen Rice’s son, Glen Rice Jr., and North Carolina State recruit Ryan Harrow. Glen Jr. will take his game to Georgia Tech next fall.
Eisenhower High School has senior post Brock Von Nordeck, who, at 6-foot-9, is fast gaining attention for his athletic ability and shooting touch. They also have two impressive guards in senior Drew Washington and junior Jarod Oldham. Washington is a load on defense and Oldham, who is 6-4 and still growing, has good ball-handling skills and can knock down the mid-range jumper. Von Nordeck and Oldham are mid-major locks.
MacArthur possibly has the deepest team in the tourney, going with as many as 10 players in the rotation. The Generals are led by Monty Wilson Jr., Kendall Kinnison, James Boatman and Jordan Softley. Wilson is a heady player that knows how to score and rebound despite being undersized at the forward position.
Springfield Southeast has scintillating guards in Lawrence Thomas (22 points per game) and Sean Crawford to spark its offense. Belleville Althoff may have the best sophomore in the field in 6-4 forward Carson Sonnenberg. Twin guards Caleb and Colby Long pace the red-hot Mount Zion Braves, who have won five in a row entering the tourney.
The event begins with a 9 a.m. game on Saturday, runs all day, then resumes play Monday morning with consolation and main draw games in the school’s two gyms. The title game will be played Tuesday night at 8 p.m.
Centralia tourney loaded with talent
Centralia’s Holiday event will feature the Hyde Park Thunderbirds and San Jose State commit Anthony Dixon. The 6-foot-5 guard-forward transplant from Atlanta can do a little bit of everything for Hyde Park, the favorite at Centralia.
Champaign Central, a third-place finisher at the state tournament last year, lost a lot to graduation but gained a transfer from Wales. Joe Daniels, a 6-8 junior forward joined the team after his family moved back to the states this summer.
Memphis’ Mitchell High is led by 6-4 junior guard Mardracus Wade. Wade is a top-100 recruit that is considering Arkansas, Memphis, Missouri and Baylor. He might be the second-best offensive player on the team. Junior guard Russell Hill Jr. is plunking down 20.2 points per game with 31 3-pointers so far.
On the girls side: Check out the State Farm Holiday Classic in Normal or the Charleston Holiday tourney. Both will have supersectional teams involved.
More Hall of Fame inductees
Five individuals and two teams — both from Pleasant Plains High School — have been selected for induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, with ceremonies to take place on April 25 at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center in Normal.
Lincoln teammates in 1979, Jan Bowers and Barb Verderber, will be inducted in the player categories. Bowers and Verderber were junior starters for the 1978 squad that finished second in the then-single-class state tournament. The Railsplitters went 24-3 that year, losing to Joliet 64-48 in the state championship game.
Both ultimately scored more then 1,300 points for Lincoln.
Morrisonville’s John Fahl will be inducted as an official. Fahl is in his 34th year as a high school referee, working three Class A State Tournaments.
Mount Pulaski’s Jim Jumper will be inducted in the Career Coaches category.
Jumper, in his seventh and final season as the boys head coach for the Hilltoppers, is also completing his 34th year overall as a teacher and coach.
Jumper formerly coached in the Mount Sterling and Augusta Southeastern school districts before he went to Elkhart, where he spent 14 years as a junior high school coach. He then served six years as an assistant to Bill Rucks with the Mount Pulaski High School boys team before taking over as head coach in 2002.
Former Edinburg official scorer Sam Bowsher will be inducted as a Friend of Basketball.
Pleasant Plains’ Class A boys state championship teams of 2000 and 2002 also will be inducted. Both teams were coached by Cliff Cameron, who remains as the Cardinals’ coach.
Hall plaques moved to Danville
The IBCA also has announced that its Hall of Fame plaques have been moved to the Danville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Jeanie Cooke, executive director of the bureau, said efforts are being made to establish a permanent location for the IBCA Hall of Fame in Danville.
Can you remember a boys basketball game tied at zero at halftime? Armstrong-Potomac and Westville recently played a game of chicken about who could shoot the ball the fewest times. The slowdown came when A-P coach Brian Russell, a former assistant at Westville, thought the way to victory was to hobble the quicker Tigers. It worked, sort of. Westville still eventually won the game 16-7.
Troy Hayes covers central and southern Illinois for MaxPreps. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.