By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
SHELBINA, Mo. — Wyatt Proper is ready to see his competition in person.
His scouting report on Matt McPherson and Jason Salrin is pretty sketchy.
All Proper, a 6-foot-1 forward from South Shelby, knows is what he's seen on television highlights.
Lack of information hasn't left Proper completely unprepared.
Just by scanning the roster, Proper knows he will busy in the post while representing the Missouri all-stars in the 30th McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic tonight at 7:15 p.m. at Quincy University's Pepsi Arena. The Illinois all-stars, who will be led by former QND coach Scott Douglas, are considerably taller.
McPherson, a 6-9 center from Quincy Notre Dame, and Salrin, a 6-7 center from Quincy High School, give the Illinois All-Stars a pretty lofty height advantage in the post. The Missouri team's tallest players — Clark County's Kyle Kovar, Hannibal's Dalton Powell and South Shelby's Andre McClure — are 6-3.
Not that Proper is intimidated. With Kovar and McClure to help him bang underneath, Proper belives the Show-Me State will be fine on the glass.
"I like to play a physical game," Proper said. "It should help me out a little bit."
Proper may get that type of game as the Land of Lincoln looks to extend its three-game winning streak in the series. Illinois leads the all-time series 27-2 and won last year's game 93-82. In the practice, the Land of Lincoln has been experimenting playing Salrin and McPherson together.
"McPherson and I have been working well together in practice," Salrin said. "We want to be able to get the ball inside and then work it to our guards."
Highland's Brandon Davie hopes that the Show-Me State, which will be led by South Shelby coach Phillip Dunkle, will be able to take advantage of playing on a college floor.
Missouri hopes its perimeter attack will help open things up. Powell, Mark Twain's Garrett Jarman and Davie all shot well from the perimeter last season.
"We're practicing on a foot or two behind the line," Davie said. "We're going to try and space the floor for Andre, Wyatt and Kyle down low too."
The Land of Lincoln will holds a significant size advantage overall. West Hancock's Paxton Harmon, who is 6-5, and 6-3 Raiders guard Alex Fitch and 6-3 Blue Devils guard Martin Kvitle give Illinois length on the wings.
Fitch and Harmon both demonstrated an ability to play inside-out, while Kvitle has outside range.
"We have a nice balance at each position and have a lot of height with Paxton being 6-5," McPherson said. "We've been experimenting with a one-post and two-post offenses. I think people are going to see a lot of different variations."
The Illinois guards also bring some valuable playoff experience to the table. Payson-Seymour's Jake Voss helped the Indians reach advance to super-sectionals in Class 1, while Harmon helped the Titans reach the sectional title game in Class 2.
Missouri plans to utilize it's speed. Canton's Austin Hoewing, along with Powell and Davie, will be expected to help push the ball down the floor.
"We have a lot of fast players," Davie said. "A lot of quick, good ball-handling and a lot of good shooting guards. We'll look to get up and down the floor a lot and use our speed."
Marion County's Kason Spratt and Canton's David McReynolds will also provide the Show-Me State with some toughness inside. Both players are 5-10 and helped their respective schools reach the state quarterfinals. Spratt is used to be outsized.
Playing for a Mustangs team without a true post player, Spratt had to play underneath. So he's prepared to play tough.
"We have some pretty good size and athleticism," Spratt said. "I think we can match up with them."
McPherson wants to protect the streak for Illinois.
He believes the Land of Lincoln will be able to stop Missouri from running.
"We're going to play hard-nosed defense and be right on them," McPherson said. "We are going to prevent transition and hit the glass hard."