Corona del Sol loses another elite hoops player to Hillcrest


With the latest high-profile basketball transfer, Corona del Sol High School is beginning to resemble a feeder school for Hillcrest Prep.

Unfortunately, that’s become a sign of the times these days, as basketball academies continue to proliferate, skimming off the cream of the local talent.

Dalen Terry, the 13th-best small forward in the class of 2020, according to the 247Sports Composite, has decided to take his game to where he feels he can improve his chances of getting a top college scholarship offer.  He’s decided to use Hillcrest, which set up shop in Phoenix in time for the 2015-16 season, as the next rung on the ladder he’s climbing toward a college, and perhaps a professional, career.

And it hasn’t been that long ago that the nation’s top high school prospect, Marvin Bagley III, also left Corona to play at Hillcrest.

Hillcrest is what is generally referred to as a “basketball factory,’ where elite high school basketball players get an opportunity to play in national showcase tournaments and against top-caliber players from other similar academies around the country, rather than compete against local prep programs.

The school, which draws some of the best players from Arizona and other states as well, isn’t a member of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), which means it doesn’t play local high school teams.

Hillcrest gained national recognition when Bagley transferred from Corona del Sol after his freshman year.  The 7-footer was rated at the time as the No. 1 college prospect in the Class of 2018.

That move by Bagley, who went on to play a one-and-done season at Duke and now plays for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, pulled the rug out from under plans to return Corona to the dominant force it had been prior to his arrival at the Tempe school.  Bagley, as a freshman, led the team to a 33-1 record and the school’s fourth straight state big-school championship, becoming just the third team in state history to pull off four straight.

And Terry, a 6’6” wing, was going to be a driving force in getting back to the top of the mountain this season.  But in June Terry transferred to Hillcrest, creating a huge hole in Corona’s line-up for the 2018-19 season.

The junior is ranked by 247Sports as a four-star prospect and the No. 4 player in Arizona, with scholarship offers starting to roll in from schools like USC, Utah, UNLV, and California.  Within the state, Grand Canyon University coach Dan Majerle was the first to offer the youngster, and Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley got on the bandwagen after he watched Terry play in a June camp held on the ASU campus.

Earlier in the spring, Terry joined the Compton Magic, a high-profile AAU team in Southern California, and feels the best way to be able to continue playing the game at that high level of competition is to get on board at Hillcrest for the upcoming high school season.

While that kind of thinking is understandable, it doesn’t soothe the angst felt by Corona coach, Neil MacDonald.

His Aztecs went 15-13 last year with a sophomore Dalen Terry.  This year he had to be making plans for a much better finish as Terry matured another year and would have moved into a leadership role.

Unfortunately, he’s found out that all he’s done is prepare another top player for the move to the factory.