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DEAL: Four ex-Hoop City Classic players on cusp of NBA dreams

When the NBA Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPN, four players that made basketball trips to South Dakota could be among the 60 players picked in the two-round draft.

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Mitchell's Kaden Soukup (12) drives to the basket against Mountain Brook's Trendon Watford during the 2018 Hoop City Classic. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

The NBA Draft has been good to Hoop City Classic alumni.

When the NBA Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPN, four players that made basketball trips to South Dakota could be among the 60 players picked in the two-round draft.

Charles Bassey, Matthew Hurt, Trendon Watford and Alex Antetokounmpo are all NBA Draft prospects and they aren’t far removed from hooping at the Hoop City Classic in Mitchell and Sioux Falls.

Hurt, Watford and Antetokounmpo were in the 2018 star-studded event, while Bassey played in the 2016 classic as the nation’s No. 2 sophomore prospect.

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St Anthony Yellowjackets (Texas) forward Charles Bassey (23) shoots the ball against Putnam Science (Conn.) during the City of Palms Classic Dec. 18 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)
St Anthony Yellowjackets (Texas) forward Charles Bassey (23) shoots the ball against Putnam Science (Conn.) during the City of Palms Classic Dec. 18 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

If one or all four are picked Thursday, it will continue a streak of Hoop City Classic alumni players to hear their names called on draft night. Since 2012, at least one former player has been drafted in the first or second rounds, with 12 alumni drafted in total.

La Lumiere, Indiana’s Isaiah Stewart and DeLaSalle, Minnesota’s Tyrell Terry, who both played multiple games in the Classic, were drafted last season by the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks, respectively.

Ten years of top hoops talent in the Hoop City Classic

The list of draftees include 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and 2014 No. 3 pick Joel Embiid.

Other draftees feature P.J. Washington, Jordan Poole, Jaren Jackson Jr., Nigel Williams-Goss, Cheick Diallo, Kelly Oubre Jr., Nick Johsnon, and Rashad Vaughn.

Bassey, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound center, played for St. Anthony (Texas) during the 2016 event at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Bassey logged 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in a 73-50 win over Sioux Falls Washington in the Classic.

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He spurned a host of blue-blood schools and committed to Western Kentucky. This past season, he was named both the Conference USA player of the year and the league’s defensive player of the year. Bassey is the draft’s No. 35 prospect and the No. 4-ranked center, according to ESPN.com.

Rochester John Marshall’s Matthew Hurt (1) makes a move to the basket on Mankato East’s Uhana Ochan (23) on Feb. 13, 2018 in Rochester, Minnesota. Hurt and the Rockets will be one of the top teams to appear at the Hoop City Classic this December. (Andrew Link / Rochester (Minn.) Post Bulletin)
Rochester John Marshall’s Matthew Hurt (1) makes a move to the basket on Mankato East’s Uhana Ochan (23) on Feb. 13, 2018 in Rochester, Minnesota. Hurt and the Rockets will be one of the top teams to appear at the Hoop City Classic this December. (Andrew Link / Rochester (Minn.) Post Bulletin)

A 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward, Hurt played for Rochester John Marshall (Minn.) at the Pentagon in 2018. The Rockets lost to Brandon Valley, but Hurt flashed his five-star talent with 36 points, five rebounds and three blocks in the 74-62 defeat.

He later played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University, where he was an all-ACC selection as a sophomore last season. Hurt is the draft’s No. 53 prospect and 10th-ranked power forward, according to ESPN.com.

Watford and Mountain Brook (Ala.) played three total games at the 2018 Hoop City Classic. Watford, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward, paced the Spartans to an 89-44 win over Mitchell with 29 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals at the Corn Palace.

After leading Mountain Brook to three-straight state championships, Watford played for two seasons at LSU. He’s the 64th-ranked prospect and 15th-ranked power forward, according to the ESPN.com rankings.

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Alex Antetokounmpo, of the Dominican (Wisconsin) team takes part in a shootaround at the 2018 Hoop City Classic. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, didn’t exactly shine in South Dakota. He combined for just 11 points in losses against Yankton and Coronado (Nev.) in 2018 for Dominican High School (Wis.).

Antetokounmpo received scholarship offers from DePaul, Ohio and Wisconsin-Green Bay. However, he opted to play professionally overseas in Spain. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward doesn’t appear on many draft rankings, but he recently worked out with the Indiana Pacers. He’s also got the genetic makeup and NBA lineage to make for an intriguing prospect.

Jaden Hardy, another 2018 Hoop City Classic alum, spurned a host of major college basketball teams and will play in the NBA G League this upcoming season. In March, he became the 18th Hoop City Classic alumni to be named a McDonald’s High School All-American. A 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard, Hardy is already drawing buzz for the 2022 draft and could join other ex-Hoop City Classic players in the NBA.

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