NO. 24 BELLEVILLE WEST
Location: Belleville, Ill.
Preseason Rank: 24
2017-18 record: 30-2
Final 2017-18 Super 25 ranking: 24
Last year’s run to the program’s first-ever 4A state title, knocking off Chicago juggernaut and defending champ Whitney Young in overtime, announced the affirmative arrival of one E.J. Liddell. The 6-foot-7 Ohio State commit, ranked by 247 Sports as the top prospect in Illinois and the 10th best power forward in the country, was one of the Prairie State’s most feared on the blocks. His 200 blocks on the season averaged out to nearly six a game, to go with a near double-double (20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds).
So after earning Illinois Mr. Basketball and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, what does one do for their swan song? The sky seems like the limit for Liddell, and he’ll have a fantastic supporting cast led by another hero from last season’s title game, Lawrence Brazil III (10.7 points per game). He’ll be joined by 6-5 forward Keith Randolph Jr. (10.1 points), 6-5 forward Marcellus Romious, 6-2 guard Jaylin Mosby, 6-5 forward Will Shumpert, and promising 6-4 sophomore Tommie Williams.
The Maroons’ first real test will come in a hurry, later this month at the Tournament of Champions in Washington, Ill., where they’re scheduled to face Lakewood (S.C.) and LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.).