Finke headlines Country Financial Centennial Shootout

Finke headlines Country Financial Centennial Shootout

Michael Finke has played in shootouts before.

But this is the first time the future Illinois forward will get a chance to play a high school game on his future home court at the State Farm Center.

The Class of 2014 forward from Centennial — who will sign his letter of intent to play at Illinois next Wednesday afternoon — is the marquee name of the 12-team Country Financial Centennial Shootout on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Finke’s Chargers will cap the day-long high school basketball action set to get underway at 11 a.m. on Dec. 7 at the State Farm Center.

The event formerly known as the Shootout at the Hall is back after a one-year absence.

And back at Illinois’ home venue after last taking place there in 2010.

Centennial athletic director Brian Easter has taken the reins of organizing the event after the Champaign County Visitors and Convention Bureau had previously handled arrangements.

The 2011 shootout was moved from State Farm Center to Parkland College a few days before it was scheduled to take place because of a new NCAA rule that prohibited non-scholastic basketball events on campus if prospective student-athletes are participating.

Since the shootout was previously organized by the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau, it fit that criteria.

But with Easter and Centennial now running the event, the shootout — which started in 2006 — has returned.

“We’re excited to have it,” Easter said. “There’s definitely some local flair with some Big 12 schools and some schools from out of the area that have had some good seasons and have some good young players that we’re excited to see.”

All 12 teams in the shootout are from Illinois, not totally uncommon based on past shootouts.

All told, three out of state teams have competed in previous shootouts.

Bowman Academy in Indiana took part in the 2009 and 2010 versions. Quality Education Academy out of North Carolina played in 2010 and Huntsville (Ala.) Lee High School played in 2010 as well.  

Easter had 11 of the 12 teams lined up by the end of August, and Chicago Bogan has replaced Chicago Curie in the lineup.

Curie and its highly-coveted big man, Cliff Alexander, played in the last shootout in 2011 and were scheduled to play again this year before scheduling conflicts arose this summer.

Bogan will square off against Finke and Centennial in the shootout’s last game, scheduled to tip at 7:45 p.m.

“It’s one of those things where you’re trying to figure out what players within the state might potentially be on Illinois’ radar,” Easter said. “The thing that you deal with (in finding a replacement team) at that stage of the game in the fall is a lot of teams already have their schedule full. I know from my standpoint, I don’t like to have any empty games on my schedules, so we were fortunate to come across Bogan.”     

Aside from Centennial’s game against Bogan, the rest of the lineup looks like this.

Mahomet-Seymour will play Peoria Notre Dame in the first game at 11 a.m., followed by Peoria Manual and Springfield Lanphier at 12:45 p.m.

St. Joseph-Ogden will meet Monticello at 2:30 p.m. before Decatur MacArthur tangles with Galesburg at 4:15 p.m.

Bloomington and Geneva are set to tip at 6 p.m. before Centennial-Bogan take the floor.

Lanphier boasts Tennessee commit Larry Austin, Jr., a combo guard who was an Illinois recruiting target under both Bruce Weber and John Groce, while MacArthur features senior guard Marcus Bartley, who has committed to St. Louis.

“It will make a huge difference I would think going forward having done it once and having a little bit better idea of what to expect,” Easter said. “If we could get the date moved back a week in the future that would help. With it being this early in December, in order to get programs done and things like that, we’re up against a really tight deadline. If I could work with the State Farm Center and find another open weekend later, that would help because this date conflicts with a lot of other shootouts going on the same day. If there’s an opportunity to get more teams in and there’s a lot of interest in it, I would definitely look at doing that.”
 

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