The Hoop City Classic is full of first-time participants, but not Tyrell Terry.
The DeLaSalle, Minnesota, point guard has played in each of the past three classics and said he looks forward to playing in it each year.
"It's been very fun," Terry said. "We play a lot of great talent. My sophomore year we played IMG Academy-best of the best in the country at that time. Last year, we played some great talent and this year playing the best of the best again. That's what we come down here for is to compete and have fun."
Terry said the Islanders used the annual event as a springboard for the rest of the season. The Islanders have won six of the last seven Class 3A state titles in Minnesota.
"It prepares us for the talent we have at home," Terry said. "That's the main reason we come down here is play top talent to prepare us for winning a state title back at home."
Besides playing in Minnesota's state tournament, Terry said the Hoop City Classic atmosphere is the best the Islanders play in all season.
"It's great playing in the Corn Palace and the Pentagon is also a very good atmosphere," Terry said. "It's very fun coming down here every year. The fans are great. The competition is great. It's just a great time."
Terry netted 30 points and recorded his 1,000th career point in DeLaSalle's 78-68 loss against Findlay Prep on Thursday. He finished with 38 points in the Islanders' 63-62 win against Mountain Brook on Friday.
Terry, who is the No. 5 point guard in the Class of 2019, will play basketball next season at Stanford.
Watford and Fuller's Corn Palace connection
Trendon Watford and PJ Fuller are both consensus top-100 recruits in the Class of 2019 from Mountain Brook (Ala.) and Findlay Prep (Nev.), respectively. Yet both had a connection with the Corn Palace before the Hoop City Classic.
Fuller has already committed to TCU, where Mitchell native Ryan Miller is an assistant coach. And while Watford hasn't committed anywhere, he has Memphis, where Ryan's brother Mike Miller is an assistant, in his top four alongside Indiana, Alabama and LSU.
"This is basically (Mike's) home, so I see his banner hung up and it's pretty cool," Watford said.
Fuller had the same reaction to playing in the Corn Palace, comparing it to the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma where the Washington state basketball championship is held. He also mentioned South Dakota's snow reminded him of his childhood.
"The atmosphere is very similar," Fuller said. "There's a lot of oohs and aahs, there's not a lot of people going for just one team. It's just a lot of people there that come to see good basketball."
Fuller admits he doesn't have the strongest relationship with Ryan, though is eager to build one once at TCU.
"Me and coach Ryan Miller, our relationship isn't as strong as it's going to get," Fuller said. "... But me and Ryan Miller are going to create a very (strong) bond."
For Watford, his relationship with Mike started before his recruitment. He met Mike when his older brother Christian Watford, who played for the Indiana Hoosiers, played on M33M, a Memphis-based AAU basketball team formerly sponsored by Mike and coached by Hoop City Classic president and Mitchell native Ernie Kuyper.
His relationship with Mike and Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway is a big reason why the Tigers made his top four.
"(Mike's) like family to me," Watford said. "I've been pretty tight with him since I was five or six years old. ... My brother played on his AAU team, so every since then we've had sort of a connection."
Irvin's buzzer beater completes DeLaSalle's upset
DeLaSalle wanted Tyrell Terry to shoot the final shot but while being hounded by defenders, he dished it to Andrew Irvin, who nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left side. The Islanders took down USA Today's No. 16 Mountain Brook, 63-62, Friday at the Corn Palace.
"(The play) was actually set up for Tyrell Terry, but people have to step up," Irvin said, adding his game-winning shot felt really good coming off his hand.
The win didn't come without some theatrics, though. After Mountain Brook's Colby Jones hit a 3 to put it up up 62-60 with 5.2 seconds left, the officiating crew thought DeLaSalle called a timeout.
However, DeLaSalle coach Travis Bledsoe said his team practices getting the ball out quickly before the defense gets set and didn't want a timeout. With the Islanders forced to use a timeout, Bledsoe knew what to call.
"We knew they were going to press, so it wasn't necessarily a play," Bledsoe said. "It was more of getting the ball to Tyrell, him penetrating and hitting someone open on the wing for the open shot."
That was Irvin's only made 3 of the game, though Bledsoe has been encouraging him to shoot more the past couple of weeks. After the game, Irvin thought it was cool that fans crowded him for autographs and pictures, while also praising the Corn Palace's atmosphere.
The Islanders also pulled the upset without George Washington signee Jamison Battle, who rolled his ankle against Findlay Prep on Thursday. Terry, a Stanford signee, scored 38 points, making 14 of 17 from the free-throw line.
"It's a big time win for us," Bledsoe said. "... I thought every guy who checked into the game play as hard as they could."