MINNEAPOLIS — The Twin Cities Pro-Am tipped off Saturday, featuring players from all over the world, ranging from high school to the NBA.
Tyus Jones, an Apple Valley alum now playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, has his own team in the league called Team Tyus, which features players from across the globe along with Tyus' brother, Tre Jones, with the San Antonio Spurs, Daniel Oturu with the Orlando Magic, and Theo John with the Timberwolves.
"Honestly, it's a lot of my friends," said Jones. "You've got a close-knit group, so it's a lot of friends, a few coaches from my AAU program, and then we recruit a couple different pieces that we feel like we need to fill out the team with."
Jones has been playing in the program for seven years and says as his career with basketball has evolved so have his goals with the annual summer league.
"It's something where, growing up, I was like, 'Man, I can't wait to play in the Pro-Am,'" said Jones. "I'm looking at the pro guys showing up, the overseas guys who are back in town now playing, and some of the college guys who are playing, that was just the coolest thing for me. For me, that's mainly the reason. I want to get out here and give the kids something to come out and watch. Other than that, trying to get something out of it. Trying to stay in shape, get some good runs in, and these are the best players in the state."
Jones adds participating in the pro-am offers a unique experience, specifically for some of the younger guys.
"Any chance some college guys, even high school guys can get in the gym and be around them, that's life changing for them," said Jones. "You can learn so much from that, from those little experiences. You may not think it's much, but it makes a difference. For me, that's what I try to mix. I try to get a few young guys on our team who are thirsty to learn, thirsty to be around other pros and guys who have been there and done that before."
With the talent being pumped out of Minnesota on the hardwood, Jones says the pro-am only helps grow the game in the Twin Cities.
"It's continuing to get better," he said. "I think Minnesota basketball is super slept on, but we produce tons of talent each and every year, especially the last 10, 12 years. When we can get the majority of that talent back in one gym, it gives the state something to come out and watch. Other players, we like to see each other's success. We like to get in the gym and push each other and play and get something out of it as well. That's mainly what this is about."
The league runs through the second week of August, with the playoffs starting Aug. 6.
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