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Boys Basketball: Tom Shute a driving force for Oak Forest

Oak Forest's Tom Shute | File photo

Oak Forest's Tom Shute | File photo

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Updated: February 17, 2014 8:01AM



When Tom Shute was in eighth grade, he had a good idea Oak Forest would have a successful basketball program by the time he was a senior in high school.

Beyond his own skills, Shute was familiar with the talent that would eventually be joining him on the Bengals.

“Me and Jason (Roland) had been playing on the same team since sixth grade,” Shute said. “Me and David (Gray) played on a park district league in eighth grade with Dylan Ross and we won the championship. I knew we could be a pretty special team my senior year.”

Shute might have a future as a talent evaluator.

The Bengals are 13-2 on the season and 5-1 in the South Suburban Blue. While success has been a team effort — Roland, Gray and Kyle Flanagan all are capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night — there’s no debating Shute’s impact. Not only from a scoring and defending standpoint, but as a leader.

“Tom’s willing to do anything to help the team win,” Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke said. “He’s very unselfish. He just plays. He’s a throwback. You don’t know the difference in him if he scored four points, 14 points or 24 points. He stays the same. He’s a gamer.”

Shute’s demeanor may never change, but the 6-foot guard willingly has altered his approach to better fit the 2013-14 Bengals. Teams have been focusing more on stopping him from scoring. Shute’s fine with that. The third-year varsity member is willing to take what the defense gives him — whether that means taking shots or setting his teammates up for buckets.

He’s averaging 14.4 points per game, just behind the 6-8 Flanagan’s 15.6.

The bottom line, however, is that Oak Forest is winning.

“What’s made this season so much fun is we’re unselfish scorers,” said Shute, who will play college basketball at Loras. “Everybody is getting a piece of the action. I realized over the summer that I wasn’t going to need to score as much.”

Shute also has benefited from playing with the Windy City Magic AAU team.

“I’ve played on other AAU teams, but Windy City is much more structured around the team,” Shute said. “We ran a set offense, which helped me learn how to feed the post better. It’s made me get the ball into Flanagan more.”

An Arbor Park School graduate, Shute insists the Bengals aren’t looking too far ahead. There’s growing excitement for a Feb. 14 showdown with conference powerhouse Hillcrest. First things first. Richards comes to town Friday.

“We just have to keep working hard and winning so those games (down the road) mean something,” Shute said. “Everyone on the team is pretty level-headed. I’ve never had more fun playing basketball.

“We’ve had great support from our fans. Our student section is one of the best in the area. It’s been a great experience.”



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