After no event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hoop City Classic returns to South Dakota in 2021, with a three-day schedule that includes 22 games played at the Corn Palace in Mitchell and the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
The event will be played from Dec. 28-30, 2021, which is a Tuesday-through-Thursday, and will have 11 games apiece between the two sites. Among the notable highlights from the slate, which was announced Wednesday, includes:
a visit from Mike Miller’s Houston, Tennessee high school team for a third-straight year
a rematch for the Mitchell High School teams from a year ago
a handful of top regional recruits for the class of 2022
five all-South Dakota boys basketball matchups
Both the Mitchell High School boys and girls teams will play a pair of Gillette, Wyoming teams for the second season in a row. The Kernels will play Campbell County on Dec. 28, followed by Thunder Basin on Dec. 29.
The Kernels played both teams a season ago in the makeshift Corn Palace Classic and I-90 Challenge, which included some of the previously canceled Hoop City Classic games, with the MHS boys winning both games by double-digits and the Kernel girls splitting the games, including a one-point loss to Thunder Basin.
Houston (Tenn.), coached by Mike Miller, will play three games while in South Dakota. The Mustangs will play Totino-Grace (Minn.) on Dec. 28 at the Corn Palace, Sioux Falls Jefferson on Dec. 29 and St. Thomas More on Dec. 30. It will be the third straight season that the Mustangs — who were Tennessee’s Class AAA state champions in 2020 — have visited South Dakota for a series of games. Miller’s name was on the event for the first eight years of the event, until the change prior to the 2018 edition.
The highlight game for Houston will be the Dec. 28 game against Totino-Grace, which includes 6-foot-8 forward Ahjany Lee, who committed this week to play at Division I and Summit League newcomer St. Thomas (Minn.) after reportedly having Power Five conference offers. He’s the No. 8-ranked player in Minnesota’s class of 2022.
The nightcap on Dec. 28 will include White River and Aberdeen Christian at 9 p.m., with the Class B state runner-up Knights facing the perennial powers from White River. In all, five Class B state tournament teams from a year ago will participate, including Canistota, Lower Brule and Viborg-Hurley.
The Dec. 30 slate includes five games at the Pentagon, including a first-time appearance for Enderlin, North Dakota, which will face Canton in a 2 p.m. game. Enderlin boasts the No. 1 recruit for 2022 in the state of North Dakota in 6-foot-10 senior Joe Hurlburt, who has committed to Colorado.
Sixteen teams are making their first appearance at the Hoop City Classic, including South Dakota boys programs Canton, Freeman Academy/Marion, Garretson, St. Thomas More, Sioux Falls Jefferson, Viborg-Hurley and Waubay-Summit. Out-of-state boys programs include both Enderlin and Totino-Grace, Campbell County and Thunder Basin, while girls newcomers include Bridgewater-Emery, Brandon Valley, Campbell County and Thunder Basin.
Mitchell and DeLaSalle (Minn.) are scheduled to continue their streak of participating in all 11 editions of the event.
The event will be played without NAIA-level college games for the first time since 2014. Men’s college games were held for five straight years from 2015 to 2019 but weren’t held in 2020 due to the event’s cancellation.
11th annual Hoop City Classic
All games are boys games unless noted.
Tuesday, Dec. 28
At Corn Palace
9 a.m.: Bridgewater-Emery girls vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)
10:30 a.m.: Gregory vs. Canistota
Noon: First Assembly Christian (Tenn.) vs. DeLaSalle (Minn.)
1:30 p.m.: Yankton vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)
3 p.m.: Bridgewater-Emery vs. Waubay/Summit
4:30 p.m.: Mitchell girls vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)
6 p.m.: Houston (Tenn.) vs. Totino-Grace (Minn.)
7:30 p.m.: Mitchell vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)
9 p.m.: White River vs. Aberdeen Christian
Wednesday, Dec. 29
At Corn Palace
3 p.m.: Mitchell girls vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)
4:30 p.m.: Mitchell vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)
At Sanford Pentagon
12:30 p.m.: Howard vs. Freeman Academy/Marion
2 p.m.: Lower Brule vs. Viborg-Hurley
3:30 p.m.: Garretson vs. Lennox
5 p.m.: Thunder Basin (Wyo.) vs. DeLaSalle (Minn.)
6:30 p.m.: Sioux Falls Jefferson vs. Houston (Tenn.)
8 p.m.: Sioux Falls Christian vs. First Assembly Christian (Tenn.)
Thursday, Dec. 30
At Sanford Pentagon
2 p.m.: Canton vs. Enderlin (N.D.)
3:30 p.m.: Brandon Valley girls vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)
5 p.m.: First Assembly Christian (Tenn.) vs. Aberdeen Christian
6:30 p.m.: Brandon Valley vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)
8 p.m.: Houston (Tenn.) vs. St. Thomas More