The third annual Eric Ottens Memorial Shootout is scheduled for Saturday on Fulton High School's Stan Borgman Court with the first of four varsity boys basketball contests getting under way at 2:30 p.m., matching Unity Christian of Fulton against Stockton.
Other teams joining the host Fulton Steamers in the Shootout include the Bettendorf junior varsity, Erie, Prophetstown, East Dubuque and Lena-Winslow.
Ottens graduated from Fulton High School in 2001, having played four years for the Steamers. He was selected to the all-state team his senior year and went on to play NCAA Division I basketball for the Evansville Purple Aces, graduating with a degree in Health Care Management in 2005. Ottens passed away in March 2006, following an automobile accident near Dubuque.
Fulton athletic director Derek Germann said: "Eric was a great teammate and an excellent example of character and sportsmanship. We hope to honor those qualities and encourage them in youth of all ages with this exciting day of basketball."
Barry Bauer, now boys athletic director and head boys basketball coach at Watseka (Ill.) High, was Ottens’ coach when he was with the Steamers.
"He was the best I've ever coached," Bauer said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "And most enjoyable. He was head and shoulders above everyone else but always a team player, a great performer."
Bauer said: "Last year's shootout was held on a nice day, and my wife (Jody) and I came up for the event. Last Saturday, here, they had a presentation for me having won my 300th game. Denny and Sue (Ottens) came down as did Barb and Bob Coffey (also of Fulton). I would like to have our team in the Shootout sometime, but we have conference games on Friday night and it (Fulton) is quite a distance (Watseka is southeast of Kankakee, near the Indiana border)."
Ottens was a three-year varsity starter for the Steamers from 1998 to 2001. They posted a 75-14 record during that time.
In 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 Eric was named the Clinton Herald's Player of the Year. The same two years he was Three Rivers Conference Player of the Year and Chicago Sun Times first-team selection. Ottens was named to the Chicago Tribune's first team in 2000-2001 and was a McDonald's All-America Top 100 Finalist the same year.
He is the Steamers' career rebound leader with 938, third all-time scorer with 1,596 points, a second-team all-stater in 2000-2001 and an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association first-team selection the same year.
Ottens was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a member of the 2010 class.
"We had five games, 10 teams, in the 2010 Shootout," Germann said. "We hope to have five games again next year. This is honoring Eric and all he did for this area. It is an exciting event. All the workers — dads, coaches, everyone — are volunteers and funds earned are used by the program. Last year we gave $4,000 to the middle school for athletic participation."
George Kampling is the longtime sports editor of the Herald. Now retired, he still helps out around the office and occasionally covers games.