Shot clock is coming to Illinois prep basketball in 2026-27 season, but coaches remain divided on its need


QUINCY — The future implementation of the shot clock in Illinois high school basketball has coaches conflicted over how the game will look and operate, especially at different levels of the sport.

Monday, the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors approved using a 35-second shot clock for all varsity girls and boys basketball games beginning with the 2026-27 school year.

“I knew it was coming, and I like it,” Illini West girls basketball coach Grant Surprenant said. “I think it’s going to be good for the game of basketball.”

Surprenant said the timing was right, and it will help prepare student-athletes who plan to play in college and beyond.

“I’m looking forward to adapting to how basketball is being played at the college level,” Surprenant said. “It will help players that are going to play at the next level get accustomed to that. I think it’s time to make that change.”

Payson Seymour boys basketball coach Tyler Duschinsky also favored the decision. He doesn’t anticipate the time constraint becoming an issue for most teams.

“I’ve always been a proponent of it,” Duschinsky said. “I feel like the majority of schools, boys and girls, all play fast enough that the shot clock isn’t necessarily going to have too big of an impact.”

However, Duschinsky noted the impact it could have on defenses.

“You would exert all this energy, then they get it across half court, and you have to guard and guard and guard and eventually give up a layup just because your guys get tired,” Duschinsky said.

Then there’s the debate of holding the ball. How long is too long? Is it ethical? Duschinsky recalled a specific instance when it happened against his team.

“Three years ago, we’re on the road, and the other coach knew they couldn’t beat us straight up, so it essentially turned into them holding the ball,” Duschinsky said. “I understand winning games is the most important thing when it comes to what we do, but when it comes to preparing kids, I struggle with that.”

Brown County girls basketball coach David Phelps is on the other end of the spectrum.

“I’m old school, and there are times in the game where you need to take the air out of the ball,” Phelps said. “We have a nine-point lead with two minutes to go, and I want to take the air out of the ball. It’s going to be tougher to do that.”

Phelps also noted the impact it could have on the quality of play within the smaller classifications.

“How many poor shots are we going to see now with the shot clock running down and a kid sees that single digit on that shot clock and may just throw up a shot from 25 feet in a panic,” Phelps said. “I just think it’s going to make our game ugly, especially in the 1A girls aspect of this. It’s going to muck our game up, especially at the 1A, 2A levels.”

As the Brown County athletic director, as well, Phelps raised concerns about the logistics side of installing shot clocks.

“I have to find and train somebody to run the shot clock now and make sure they know what they’re doing,” Phelps said. “It changes the officials. They have to be cognizant of it. I think it’s going to change the entire complexity of our game.”

Not to mention the Lady Hornet Classic, a tournament the school hosts each year.

“We play a couple games in our junior high gym, and there is no way I can justify going to our superintendent and saying, ‘Hey, can we put a shot clock in our junior high gym for two basketball games in a year?’” Phelps said. “I’m going to have to modify our tournament so we can play every game in our main gym.”

Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas echoed Phelps’ concerns about acquiring the resources necessary to operate a shot clock.

“The biggest concern I had was schools being able to purchase said shot clock and have people able to run the shot clock,” Douglans said. “With that being a paid position in most schools, I know that’s not the easiest thing to do.”

Based on Douglas’ prior experiences with the shot clock, however, he supported it.

“Playing in the Collinsville (Prairie Farms Holiday Classic) and having the shot clock here at our shootout, I think I saw maybe two 35-second shot clock violations,” Douglas said. “The gameplay portion would be a secondary concern for me.”

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