Belleville West’s EJ Liddell leads 2019 Sun-Times All-State basketball team

Belleville West's EJ Liddell (32) blocks a shot by Young's Javon Freeman (0) during the Maroon's 60-56 overtime victory in the 4A state championship game, March 17, 2018. | Allen Cunningham/ For the Sun-Times.
Belleville West's EJ Liddell (32) blocks a shot by Young's Javon Freeman (0) during the Maroon's 60-56 overtime victory in the 4A state championship game, March 17, 2018. | Allen Cunningham/ For the Sun-Times.

PEORIA—Belleville West’s EJ Liddell, the state’s best senior, announced his arrival in town Wednesday night on Twitter: “I’m back Peoria.”

“It’s awesome to be back,” Liddell said Thursday at the Maroon’s shoot-around at Carver Arena. “I didn’t know we were going to get here last year and didn’t know how great of an experience it would be. I’m just taking it all in and having fun.”

Liddell, an Ohio State recruit, led the Maroons to the Class 4A title last season. Despite Curie’s 34-1 record and undefeated in-state run, Belleville West is a favorite to repeat this season.

“We have two more games guaranteed left,” Liddell said. “No matter what happens I’m just going to leave it all on the floor.”

The Maroons are 32-4. They beat Simeon this season and Young in the state title game last season, so have more than proven they can hang with the Public League’s elite teams.

“[Chicago] doubted us last year too,” Liddell said. [The Public League] is a great league, they produce a lot of great players. But we want to show that downstate is good too, our Southwest Conference is great basketball too. East St. Louis is also here in Class 3A.”

Liddell, last year’s Mr. Basketball winner and the favorite for the award this season, averaged 20.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 3 assists.

Belleville West has a chance to be the first team to repeat as Class 4A state champs since Simeon and Jabari Parker finished off the four-peat in 2013.

Leading a team to multiple big school state titles is a rare feat. That is Parker, Shaun Livingston, Derrick Rose territory. Liddell says he hasn’t thought about the legacy he might leave behind in Peoria this weekend, but it sounds like his coach has.

“I’m just having fun and thinking about helping my teammates win,” Liddelll said. “[Belleville West coach Joe Muniz] has told us we could go down as one of the best teams ever in the state. That’s something to look forward to.”

Liddell, a First Team All-State selection, could give Curie some serious problems in the post in the semifinals on Friday.

“We will try and take advantage inside since they play five guards,” Liddell said. “But that also give us matchup problems too. We are going to have to play out on the perimeter more, which we don’t usually do.”

Liddell is joined on the First Team by Curie’s DaJuan Gordon, Brother Rice’s Marquise Kennedy, Alton’s Donovan Clay and Young junior DJ Steward.

2019 Chicago Sun-Times All-State basketball team

First Team
Player, School, Position, Height, Year
Donovan Clay, Alton, G, 6-7 Sr.
DaJuan Gordon, Curie, F, 6-4, Sr.
Marquise Kennedy, Brother Rice, G, 6-1, Sr.
EJ Liddell, Belleville West, F, 6-7, Sr.
DJ Steward, Young, G, 6-4, Jr.

Second Team
Bryant Brown, Waukegan, F, 6-4, Sr.
RayJ Dennis, Oswego East, G, 6-2, Sr.
Jack McDonald, Geneva, G, 5-11, Sr.
Sincere Parker, Rockford East, G, 6-4, Jr.
Tom Welch, Naperville North, F, 6-8, Sr.

Class 3A
First Team
Rashaun Agee, Bogan, F, 6-8, Sr.
Perry Cowan, DePaul Prep, G, 6-4, Sr.
Terrence Hargrove, East St. Louis, F, 6-7, Sr.
Jeremiah Hernandez, St. Viator, G, 6-4, Sr.
Adam Miller, Morgan Park, G, 6-4, Jr.

Second Team
Jordan Booker, Bogan, G, 5-9, Sr.
Terrion Murdix, Springfield Southeast, G, 6-3, Sr.
Isaiah Rivera, Geneseo, F, 6-5, Jr.
Aaron Strong, Farragut, G, 6-2, Sr.
Jeremiah Williams, St. Laurence, G, 6-4, Jr.

Class 2A
First Team
DaChaun Anderson, Leo, F, 6-7, Sr.
Bryce Bultman, Nashville, F, 6-5, Sr.
Devon House, Sterling Newman, F, 6-8, Jr.
Markese Jacobs, Uplift, G, 6-0, Sr.
Tujautae Williams, Orr, G, 6-7, Sr.

Second Team
Fred Cleveland Jr., Leo, G, 5-10, Sr.
Dhashon Dyson, Corliss, G, 6-1, Sr.
Ryland Holt, Gibson City, F, 6-5, Sr.
Sherif Kenney, Orr, G, 6-4, Sr.
Malcolm Miller, Shelbyville, G, 6-4, Sr.

Class 1A
First Team
Emmitt Gordon III, Madison, G, 6-3, Sr.
Connor Heaton, Moweaqua Central A&M, G, 6-5, Jr.
Deion Jackson, Providence-St. Mel, G, 6-3, Sr.
Tyriel Nelson, Providence-St. Mel, G, 6-2, Sr.
Christian Stadeli, Cissna Park, C, 6-7, Sr.

Second Team
Coltin Quagliano, Kewanee Wethersfield, G, 5-10, So.
Jack Snook, Ottawa Marquette, G, 6-1, Sr.
Garrett Snow, Triopia, F, 6-3, Sr.
DeMarcus Williams, Collins, G, 5-9, Sr.
Tyler Winchester, Sesser-Valier, G, 6-2, Sr.

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  • Arthur Sivels Jr

    How did Markese Jacobs not Make It despite injury????

  • Coach LB

    Mark Lewis Jr. Should had made 2rd team all star. He a true point guard. Love the way he plays.

  • CP3

    There’s no way Lance Jones doesn’t make 1st/2nd team AllState. But I think this will only serve as added fuel to the fire tonight. 4 year varsity player with an extensive resume including the leader of BACK to BACK Final Fours in 4A.
    This is a head scratcher.
    Big time omission.

    • Steve

      CP3, Jones was the third best player in peoria this weekend behind lidell and hargrave. Better than gordon, better than parker, better than cowen (who was impressive as well). Agee was good but exposed defensively some against hargrave. Jones is a difference maker on both ends. If he is allowed to decommit from siu after the coach stepped down, every team in this state should look to sign him. He looks like hes ready start at a mid major tomorrow and was much better than several recent illini signings.

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