Remember when Joel Embiid played three games at the Corn Palace?

Flashback to 2012 at the Mike Miller Classic when now-NBA star Joel Embiid was playing for The Rock.

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after a play agains the Toronto Raptors during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA playoffs first round on April 20, 2022 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.
John E. Sokolowski / USA Today Sports

MITCHELL — Basketball fans who tuned into the NBA playoffs Wednesday night saw an exciting overtime game-winner when Philadelphia's Joel Embiid knocked down a 3-pointer to defeat the Toronto Raptors.

Embiid finished the game with 33 points, 13 rebounds and knocked down his first game-winner of his professional career. But did you know Embiid, who is among the front-runners to be named this year's NBA MVP, played at the Corn Palace for three days in December 2012?

That's right.

As a senior in high school, Embiid played for The Rock, of Gainesville, Fla., a team that competed in the then-Mike Miller Classic in 2012. The classic, now known as the Hoop City Classic, was in its third year of existence that year.

The Daily Republic newspaper featured Embiid as one of several Division I signees to play in the classic that year. Former reporter Brooke Cersosimo wrote that Embiid played his first organized basketball game 12 months before coming to the Corn Palace.


"Now, the 6-foot-11 forward will join the Kansas Jayhawks next fall on a full-ride athletic scholarship," Cersosimo wrote. "How is that possible? Just ask anyone in Mitchell who attended the Mike Miller Classic.

"Embiid played volleyball for roughly five years in his native country of Cameroon before moving the United States last October to play basketball." Embiid first played at Montverde High School and eventually transferred to The Rock.

“I wanted more playing time to get the experience I needed to play in college,” Embiid told Cersosimo about transferring to play under head coach Justin Harden. “Now, I’m just working hard to improve my skills to be ready to play at Kansas.”

Joel Embiid, center, fights for a loose ball in a game against Coronado on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
Mitchell Republic file photo

Embiid scored in double figures in all three games at the Corn Palace during the Mike Miller Classic.

He netted a game-high 27 points and added nine rebounds in a 72-61 loss to Our Savior New American on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.

On Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, he had 15 points in an 86-48 win over Coronado, and then he finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds in a 76-72 loss to Sioux Falls Roosevelt on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.

Roosevelt was the top-ranked team at the time and got equal contributions from its five starters. Lucas Wilber, Nate Cole and Brandon Boggs each scored 13 points. Jeramiah Clark added 11 and Tyler Howard chipped in with 10 for the Rough Riders. (Roosevelt ended up third at the state tournament that year, losing to Brandon Valley in the semifinals. Pierre defeated Brandon Valley in the AA boys title game in March 2013).

Joel Embiid looks to pass the ball in a game against Our Savior New American, of Centerreach, N.Y., on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.
Mitchell Republic File photo

Embiid's 27 points in his first showing at the Corn Palace is among the top-scoring individual performances in Mike Miller, aka Hoop City Classic, history. Here is a list of the top performers, courtesy of Assistant Editor Marcus Traxler's records:


Hoop City Classic top scorers

Scoring — single game

^Denotes game went to OT.

42 — Tony Miller, Woodinville (Wash.), 2015, vs. Mitchell

38 — Tyrell Terry, DeLaSalle, 2018, vs. Mountain Brook (Ala.); Sawyer Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery, 2017, vs. Wauwatosa West (Wis.); Rapheal Davis, La Lumiere (Ind.), 2011, vs. O’Gorman

35 — Reid Travis, DeLaSalle, 2012, vs. White River; Emmanuel Jones, Prairie Seeds, 2017, vs. Lower Brule

34 — Andre Hollins, White Station (Tenn.), 2010, vs. Mitchell; Reid Travis, DeLaSalle (Minn.), 2012, vs. Our Savior N. American

33 — ^Noah Christensen, Breckenridge (Minn.), 2018, vs. Bridgewater-Emery; Sacar Amin, DeLaSalle (Minn.), 2014, vs. SF Washington; Dalton Huisman, Ellsworth (Minn.), 2010, vs. Red Cloud


32 — Tanner Heiser, Watertown, 2012, vs. La Lumiere (Ind.); Emmanuel Jones, Prairie Seeds, 2017, vs. Mitchell Christian

31 — Demetrius Edwards Brown, Patrick Henry, 2014, vs. Mitchell Christian; Sam Aslesen, Howard, 2020, vs. White River.

30 — Zach Hanson, Pierre, 2012, vs. Our Savior; Brian Robinson, Prairie Seeds (Minn.), 2016, vs. First Assembly Christian (Tenn.); Kyle Scholten, O’Gorman, 2012, vs. Mitchell; Dawson Garcia, Prior Lake, 2017, vs. Bridgewater-Emery; Tyrell Terry, DeLaSalle, 2018, vs. Findlay Prep.

29 — J.P. Costello, O’Gorman, 2016, vs. Mitchell; Detrick Mostella, La Lumiere (Ind.), 2012, vs. Watertown; Sidy Ndir, West Oaks (Fla.), 2013, vs. SF Lincoln

28 — Chad Bryant, Custer, 2011, vs. DeLaSalle; Jaden Hardy, Coronado (Nev.), 2018, vs. Dominican (Wis.); Joe Sayler, White River, 2021, vs. Aberdeen Christian; Caden Hinker, Mitchell, 2021, vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)

27 — Brady Maxwell, Mitchell, 2011, vs. Custer; Joel Embiid, The Rock (Fla.), 2012, vs. Our Savior New American; Jordan Willis, Coronado (Colo.), 2012, vs. Mitchell

26 — Sam Wallin, O’Gorman, 2011, vs. Memphis Central; Colton Kooima, SF Roosevelt, 2013, vs. Flora Macdonald; Matthew Mors, Yankton, 2017, vs. Mitchell; Jamin Arend, Bridgewater-Emery, 2017, vs. Prior Lake

25 — Nigel Williams-Goss, Findlay Prep, 2011, vs. LaLumiere; Jesse Kreutzfeldt, Chester, 2016, vs. Bridgewater-Emery; Justice Augmon, Coronado (Colo.), 2012, vs. Lincoln; Gabe Kalscheur, DeLaSalle, 2017, vs. White Station (Tenn.); Sam Hofer, Bridgewater-Emery, 2021, vs. Waubay/Summit.


Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at
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