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Sports editor Jim Rossow takes a look at some of the more memorable performances from the first four Shootouts at the Hall:
Rayvonte Rice, Centennial
Matched against reigning Mr. Basketball and Illinois recruit Jereme Richmond, the Chargers senior (above) put on a show that would go a long way to him winning News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year. The Drake-bound senior scored a game-high 32 points, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and notched three steals in his team's 71-54 rout of Waukegan. "He had a great game," Richmond said of Rice. "He's very physical, but he can also shoot the basketball. He just did whatever his team needed from him to win tonight."
Verdell Jones, Central
Then an uncommitted junior, the point guard had 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two turnovers in 28 minutes as the Maroons beat Normal West 82-54 as Illinois coach Bruce Weber and assistant Wayne McClain looked on. "I came in here to sort of make a statement," Jones said. "You had Coach Weber here, and Coach McClain – I saw him in the first row. So it was sort of an emphasis for me to come out here and make a statement. They're high on my list. There really are no leaders right now. It's all equal. But they're definitely high on my list."
Crandall Head, Rich South
On what would be his future collegiate home court, the Illini recruiting target scored a Shootout-record 34 points. Head (14-of-21 shooting), a 6-foot-3 junior forward, also grabbed a team-high six rebounds and notched three steals while playing all 32 minutes in a 62-60 loss to Centennial.
Nick Michael, SJ-O
Made the most of his chance to run the floor his father played on in college basketball, scoring SJ-O's final four points in a 50-47 win against Chrisman. Tom Michael, who played for the Illini from 1991 to '94, watched as his son scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting. "For him to excel when the pressure's on is obviously gratifying," Tom Michael said. "He probably saw more college basketball games before he was 6 than most people see in their lifetime. He's been around this so much that I don't think it was such a big thing for him, and that probably helps a little bit, too."
Joseph Bertrand, Sterling
With future college coach Bruce Weber on hand, the guard got the best of current Illinois teammate D.J. Richardson, scoring 28 points in a 58-51 win against Peoria Central. Said Sterling coach Pete Goff: "Coach Weber turns all-staters into All-Americans, and that's what's going to happen with this group. ... (Assembly Hall) rocks now, what do you think is going to happen in four or five years? I'm ecstatic for Coach Weber and his staff."
Jereme Richmond, Waukegan
Then a 6-7 junior forward, the future Illini had a team-high 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, firing up the Assembly Hall crowd with a pair of dunks in his team's 65-55 win against Rock Island. Said Richmond (above): "I think I've got maybe a year and five months if I'm not mistaken, so I'm really looking forward to getting down here in a couple years to see what we can do."
Mark Yelovich, Mount Zion
Urbana had no defensive answers for the 6-5 senior forward, who shot 7 of 10 from the field and sank 6 of 8 free throws en route to a game-high 20 points. But he dominated the game in so many other ways, too, with game highs in rebounds (14), steals (four) and blocks (two).
DeJuan Marrero, Bowman Academy
The 6-5 sophomore with Illini interest had 20 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 25 minutes in a 69-50 win against Peoria Manual. "Coach Jay Price is recruiting me, and Coach Weber. They're both cool guys, (as is) the whole coaching staff and the team. They treat you like family down here, and that's what I like."
Tracy Abrams, Chicago Mount Carmel
The Illinois-bound guard overcame a sore ankle for a game-high 17 points (7 for 14) with eight rebounds in a 68-62 overtime win against Peoria Central. "About 80 percent," Abrams said, assessing his health. "Can't really move. Got to work on my lateral movement, my defense." Abrams returned late last month from an ankle sprain.
Chasson Randle, Rock Island
The 6-2 guard showcased his overall game against Robinson and Meyers Leonard, scoring 28 points and grabbing eight rebounds. "I love playing here," he said. "I think I had like 22 last year and 28 this year and I guess I'm shooting pretty well, so it's looking good for the Illini." Randle later signed with Stanford.