In the first 10 years of the event, the number of players to participate in the Hoop City Classic is likely now in the thousands.
Some of those players have been memorable, and many have not. But the listing of talented players has become long and accomplished, which prompted The Daily Republic to put together an all-Hoop City Classic team for the first 10 years of the event.
The decisions regarding who made our team was based on their performances in the event, not what they did since then, and repeated trips to the event over multiple years helped players develop stronger resumes than those that only played one game in a single year. That leaves out some notable names, but the Hoop City Classic has not been short on great players and great performances in that time.
While it wasn’t part of the specific criteria, each of the 10 players listed made appearances at the Corn Palace, despite the event also taking place in Sioux Falls since 2015.
Here’s a look at the team, listed alphabetically and listed with the years they played in the Classic:
Joel Embiid, The Rock (Fla.), 2012
Embiid has become one of the biggest names in Classic history but his single appearance stood out, as well. He averaged 19 points per contest in three games for The Rock, and included a 27-point performance against fellow future Kansas Jayhawk Cheick Diallo. Embiid was still a raw talent, moving from his native Cameroon to the U.S. just more than a year before his Corn Palace appearance. Embiid was also one of the most notable fan favorites for kids at the Classic, drawn to the enigmatic 6-foot-11 big man who has now become an NBA superstar.
Dawson Garcia, Prior Lake (Minn.), 2017
In one appearance at the Classic, the 6-foot-10 Garcia put on a show over the course of three games. His Lakers finished 3-0 with wins over White Station (Tenn.), Bridgewater-Emery and Sioux Falls Washington, with Garcia averaging 25.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, highlighted by a 30-point, 11-rebound win over Bridgewater-Emery. Garcia’s stock only rose after his appearance in Mitchell, and he recently committed to play at Marquette starting in 2020.
Zach Hanson, Pierre, 2012
Another player who made one appearance in the event, Hanson led his Governors to a memorable win in 2012. He had 30 points and 14 rebounds in Pierre’s win over Our Savior New American (N.Y.), which included future Kansas player Cheick Diallo in an 83-80 overtime victory at the Corn Palace. Hanson, who would go on to play in 109 collegiate games over four years at Creighton, logged the second-most points in a Hoop City Classic double-double, only bested by the 33 points and 17 rebounds tallied by Minneapolis Patrick Henry’s Julian Jackson in 2015.
Andre Hollins, White Station (Tenn.), 2010
Hollins, who would go on to star at the University of Minnesota, was the first star of the inaugural edition of the event. The 6-foot-3 Hollins averaged 24.5 points per game in two contests in 2010, which included 34 points against the Mitchell Kernels in a 62-50 win. That performance included a 15-of-19 effort at the free-throw line. Hollings went on to score 1,765 points for the Gophers and currently plays professionally in Hungary.
Sawyer Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery, 2016-18
Representing the smallest school of the 10 players on this list, Schultz, a 6-foot-3 guard portrayed South Dakota Class B basketball well in his three appearances in the event. Schultz averaged 23.2 points per game in seven career games, which included a standout 38-point game in a win over Wauwatosa West (Wis.) in 2017. Schultz, who is now playing at Dakota Wesleyan University, also had four games in which he had eight rebounds or more, showing his all-around ability.
Isaiah Stewart, La Lumiere (Ind.), 2017-18
Stewart is likely the most physically impressive player to play in the event’s first 10 years, standing at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds. His best game was a 24-point, 17-rebound performance in a win over Findlay Prep in 2018, and he averaged 17.6 points per game in three games at the event over his junior and senior seasons. Less than a month after his final appearance at the event in 2018, Stewart — a native of New York City signed to play college basketball at the University of Washington. He was named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 2019, becoming the first Hoop City Classic alum to win the honor.
Tyrell Terry, DeLaSalle (Minn.) 2016-18
Terry, the spry, 6-foot-3 guard, got better with time over his three years in the classic. He averaged 21 points per game in seven games, but really excelled in 2018, when he posted 38 points in a 63-62 win over Mountain Brook (Ala.), 30 points against Findlay Prep and 33 points against Yankton. Terry, who was the latest in a talented line of Islanders’ guards — such as Jarvis Johnson, Sacar Amin, and Gabe Kaleschur — is now at Stanford University, following the lead of DeLaSalle alum Reid Travis.
Reid Travis, DeLaSalle (Minn.), 2011-13
Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook (Ala.), 2018
Watford, a five-star player who is now at LSU, made his impact in just a few games. The 6-foot-8 forward had 29 points, nine rebounds, six assists, five steals and three blocks in a win over Mitchell, and he dueled DeLaSalle with 18 points and 10 rebounds. For his three-game span in 2018, Watford averaged 18.6 points per game while showing complete control on the court as a top-20 national recruit and going down as one of the best high school players ever from Alabama.
Nigel Williams-Goss, Findlay Prep (Nev.), 2010-11
Despite all of the talent Findlay Prep has moved through South Dakota over the years, it’s difficult to pick a top performer because the Pilots were traditionally balanced and generally played only a single Classic game on trips to Mitchell or Sioux Falls. But Williams-Goss, a 6-foot-2 point guard, played for Findlay Prep for four years, and visited the Palace twice, averaging 17.5 points per game in those two games as a sophomore and junior. He was a McDonald’s All-American in 2013 and played for two years at Washington following high school before transferring to Gonzaga for his final season in 2016-17, where he was West Coast Conference player of the year and helped the 37-2 Bulldogs to the national championship game. Williams-Goss has played in Serbia and Greece and was signed by the Utah Jazz earlier this year, playing in a bench role.