A long line formed outside Minnehaha Academy early Thursday night, before the gates opened for the highly anticipated Twin Cities Pro-Am Final.
at 6:00 p.m. m., still 30 minutes before the start, it was almost impossible to find a nearby parking lot. cars roamed the streets looking for places before people made the trip to minneapolis school.
Reading: Is tyus jones going pro
at 6:15 p.m. m., there were no seats available in the stands. five minutes later, front row spots along the pitch railings were scarce. Redhawks athletic director Josh Thurow then lifted the divider that separated the main court from a practice floor to open up more options for standing space.
By the time the game ended, approximately 1,500 people had flooded the gym to witness the conclusion of the dazzling summer basketball series featuring some of the best talent the area’s burgeoning basketball scene has to offer. offer.
an event that drew 200-250 people every night before the pandemic had no fewer than 500 spectators on any given night this summer.
Featuring a live DJ, in-game emcee, and top-tier talent including Tyus and Tre Jones, David Roddy, Daniel Oturu, Theo John, Ade Murkey, and Rashad Vaughn. Featuring guest appearances from Minnesota Timberwolves players such as Jaden McDaniels, Nathan Knight, Wendell Moore and Josh Minott, the Pro-Am was a must-see for local basketball fans.
That’s why several professional athletes from other sports, including Vikings players, Twins players and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, stopped by this summer to check out some hoops.
“It has become something great, something bigger than I think, even what (pro-am ceo jamar diggs) and everyone anticipated. but man, it’s so much fun to watch,” said tyus jones. “Minnesota, we’re always asleep as a basketball state, but the fans enjoy basketball, they enjoy going out to watch basketball. so when it’s executed the right way, as it has been, the talent is there, people will come out and watch. It will be great to see how it continues to grow.”
Much of the credit for starting and growing the event belongs to the men who started it all, diggs and joel williams. they have played a key role in elevating the atmosphere and growing the audience.
But, as is the case with much that has been built over the past decade-plus in this burgeoning state of basketball, credit also goes to the man who lifted the trophy on Thursday: Tyus Jones.
the perfect season
(📷 @emilee_wolf) pic.twitter.com/bnzxvh8bcn
— twin cities pro am (@twincitiesproam) August 12, 2022
the product of apple valley and current setter of the memphis grizzlies has been a constant in the pro-am. he owns, manages and coaches the tyus team, which became the first team in pro-am history to go undefeated this season. His constant involvement has given the pro-am credibility.
While players are understandably in and out throughout the summer, it’s a good bet if team tyus is on the schedule, jones will be on the court. played in a pro-am game on July 9, flew to Las Vegas to watch a grizzlies summer league game on the 10th, then returned to the minnehaha academy to play again on the 12th.
he also gets some experience. Jones noted that the level of competition continues to rise, so hoopers get the “good runs” they want in the offseason without having to groom them themselves. he has fun putting together his list. the pro-am offers the opportunity to play with his brothers.
the jones family has always lived in the gym. is where they prefer to be. since the guard was in eighth grade, he has drawn a crowd everywhere he has been. this is no different.
“I think when I was younger it was… ‘we heard about this 8th grader, he’s having a kind of national hype’ and that stayed all through high school. the gyms have always been packed wherever I play , and that’s great,” Jones said. “But for me, more importantly, it’s about the kids, like it always has been.”
That’s evident at the pro-am, where jones, who also sponsors his own minnesota-based aau teams, high-fives the kids during games and takes all the photos asked of him afterward. they. The 26-year-old recognizes anyone who looks in his direction, and that impact is felt.
“It’s great that the kids can go out and watch, interact with you a little bit,” Jones said. “They could pat you on the hand, you could take a picture with them, you could have a two-second conversation with them, but that matters.”
Kids who are now in high school will approach Jones and show him photos they took with him years ago.
“Knowing it made a kid’s day, or is it a keepsake for them, that’s really why I do it,” Jones said. “They keep showing up and supporting us and coming to watch, so I’ll continue to try to be out there and give them a show.”
That’s what he’s continued to do every night summer after summer, with a competitive yet no-nonsense mindset that sets an example for others to follow. jones continues to serve as an ideal ambassador, not just for the pro-am, but for minnesota basketball in general.
He’s helped build it, and the fans have come. everyone has benefited.
“(it’s) a great experience for everyone who plays, for all the kids,” jones said. “they’ll remember these types of games and environments when they’re older.”
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