NCAA Live Showcase an overwhelming success

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With an original schedule of 110 games in three days spread over six courts in two different schools, Edwardsville boys basketball coach Dustin Battas had plenty of thoughts racing through his head before the start of the NCAA Live Showcase.

“The biggest fears coming into this were hoping everybody showed up where they were supposed to and the teams stayed healthy and were able to play all of their games,” Battas said. “On Friday afternoon, you are holding your breath because it is the first shift.”

Battas, along with his staff, can let out a deep sigh of relief now.

The NCAA Live Showcase at Edwardsville High School and Liberty Middle School was a big success with nearly 60 high school boys basketball teams making its way into town for the weekend.

“I had a great team that helped me, including my assistant coaches,” Battas said. “Everybody showed up and they did what they were supposed to be doing.”

The event, which allowed NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA men’s basketball coaches to watch potential recruits in-person, consisted of 123 games, including 45 on Friday, 57 on Saturday and 21 on Sunday. EHS went 1-4 in its five games, while Father McGivney was 1-3 and Metro-East Lutheran was 0-4.

Edwardsville High School housed five courts, including two inside Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium and one apiece in Gym B and C. Liberty Middle School had two courts.

Each game had at least two officials with two halves of a 20-minute running clock.

“It was a lot of work and logistics, but we are overwhelmed by all of the positive feedback. We are very appreciative of all of the teams, officials and volunteers. It takes a huge team of people to put on an event like this,” Battas said. “Out-of-town coaches have been impressed by our facilities and the school. College coaches are thanking us for a well-run event and giving them a chance to work and see players.”

The weekend led to at least one college offer.

Chaminade guard Bryan Ward received a college offer from SIUE and coach Brian Barone, who was in attendance Friday and Saturday.

“That makes me feel so good because we do all of this for the kids,” Battas said. “We had over 50 college coaches here and a lot of players were put on lists. Now, they are going to be watched during their high school seasons.”

While Battas was thrilled for Ward, he also said he hoped those that won’t play in college enjoyed a “fun environment.”

“We also have a lot of kids that won’t play in college, but they were able to compete in a fun environment against really good teams they won’t get to see during the regular season,” Battas said.

With nearly 60 teams coming to town, including more than a dozen from outside of the area, the NCAA Live Showcase put Edwardsville on the map, as many players and teams went out exploring during their downtime.

“We were excited to bring an event like this to the area,” Battas said. “I think this weekend has opened some people’s eyes to what my vision was and how great this can be. We brought a lot of people to town going out to get food and staying in the hotels.”

Asked if the event will return next season or was a one-time deal, Battas said he hopes the former.

“We already have a large percentage of coaches that are asking about coming back next year,” Battas said. “We don’t even know if we well get to host it next year. We hope we did a good enough job this year where we get to keep doing it because the area has responded really well.”