Shot clocks are now allowed in high school basketball. Are they headed for Illinois?

Dave Eminian
Journal Star
The National Federation of State High School Associations recently approved the option of adding the shot clock to high school basketball.

PEORIA — Basketball games in the Illinois High School Association might be on a countdown toward a shot clock by the 2022-23 season season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations in an early-May report noted it has passed an allowance for individual state associations — like the IHSA — to start implementing the use of a 35-second shot clock in boys and girls high school basketball games.

The NFHS stopped short of making shot clocks a mandatory rule for its member associations. Instead, it gave approval for each state to decide whether to implement shot clocks for games starting with the 2022-23 season.

It seems like a step toward making shot clocks mandatory in the future.

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"This will give us time, and opportunity, to work with our member schools to see if they want the shot clock," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said. "We need to look at the concerns, the benefits and the financial impact of putting it into our games."

Anderson said the IHSA board will likely take up the shot clock issue in August. He said a group of coaches in favor of shot clocks — a group that includes former Richwoods coach Mike Ellis, now at Evanston — made a presentation to the board months ago.

Evanston coach Mike Ellis, former coach at Richwoods, is part of a group called the Shot Clock Warriors whose aim is to bring a shot clock to Illinois high school basketball.

Anderson said putting shot clocks into game play will mean a financial investment by schools to purchase the equipment needed.

It will take a human investment, too. Game operations staff will be needed to run the clocks. Both could be an issue for smaller schools.

"We were pleased to see the (2022-23) date NFHS designated," Anderson said. "This gives time for our discussion, and it gives time to prepare a scaling in of the system.

"The first year or two of shot clocks, the IHSA might only use them for varsity games, and not for playoff games. Then we could add them in for playoff games in a third year, and bring them to games below varsity level after that.

"But there will be some schools who will have financial difficulty putting these in. Another future impact: To qualify to host (postseason) games, schools will have to have shot clocks."

Shot clock systems cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on whether they are backboard or scoreboard mounted. And that doesn't take into consideration whether they can be added to the physical layout of older, smaller gyms without additional costs for renovations.

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Shot clocks were not previously permitted within the NFHS playing rules. States that used them forfeited a voice with the national body. Not anymore. The clocks aren't required, but for the first time, it's OK with the NFHS if shot clocks are used.

"The committee felt it appropriate to stop short of a nationwide rule change and instead allow for the continued analysis of both game and violation statistics as well as continuing to measure preferences in all states through surveys and questionnaire data," the NFHS said in a statement. "These decisions will need to be addressed within each of the states as they determine whether or not to pursue this path ..."

Craig Anderson

Eight states currently have shot clocks in use for high school games: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington.

The NFHS examined data from a 46-question survey sent out to those states already using the clocks.

The national body has issued guidance on the acquisition of the shot clock units, considerations for operators, protocols for officials including mechanics and duties, and rules considerations that will need to be reviewed regarding full and partial resets, procedures for equipment failure and responsibilities for officials.

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Guidelines call for displaying two timepieces that are connected to a horn that is distinctive from the game-clock horn, and using an alternative timing device, such as a stopwatch at the scorer’s table, for a shot clock malfunction.

The guidelines also allow for corrections to the shot clock only during the shot-clock period in which an error occurred and the officials have definitive information relative to the mistake or malfunction.

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for Reach him at 686-3206 or Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.