Tanysha Scott and Jamar Diggs both are committed to providing opportunities for fans to watch local hoopsters in action during the summertime.
Scott runs the YWCA Women’s College League at the Minneapolis Sports Center on Lake Street, and Diggs’ thrice-weekly men’s league is at his high school alma mater, DeLaSalle, on the northeast edge of downtown Minneapolis. Both directors recently spoke to the MSR.
“I have been running it for the last three years,” noted Scott, the DeLaSalle girls’ basketball coach who coordinates the 15-year league. “It was started because a lot of the colleges around here, a lot of the girls were local. It was easy for them to have somewhere to play during the off-season.”
It was once an open league, now there are between 20-30 teams participating, said Scott. “All of them are school teams, but we do have some alumni teams — girls that have just graduated that are now working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.”
It has been a while since the demise of the long-running Howard Pulley Pro-Am League, which first began in North Minneapolis, then expanded its existence. “The [Pulley] Pro-Am was huge when we played. You lived for the Pro-Am,” remembered Randy Carter, a former Gopher and Pulley alum.
She continued, “I think we had a few more pros who came through — you saw Trent Tucker, Glen Rice…Troy Hudson, Trenton Hassell and those guys… We had a few pros who played regularly in our league.”
Diggs, the founder and commissioner of the Twin Cities Pro Am, hopes to fill the void. “I’m living out of the country 10 months of the year” playing overseas ball in Lithuania, he told us.
He fondly recalls his Pulley playing days: “When I came back home and played in the Pro-Am, I got the chance to play against” the Randy Carters, Troy Bells and others.
“I miss not knowing the up-and-coming high school kid,” said Diggs. “I didn’t know any of the college kids. These kids didn’t have that because there was no Pro-Am the last few years. Somebody just has to put it together, and I can do that,” he decided.
His league’s motto — “Bringing Elite Summer Basketball Back to the City” is more than a catch phrase. “I think he’s doing a fantastic job with the league so far,” stated Carter on Diggs’ six-team Twin Cities Pro Am league.
Regarding the “Y” league, Scott said, “The coaches love it. The players love it. The coaches love it because it gives them a chance to play against some of the area schools…to see some of the [opponents’] recruits they have coming in, and a chance for them to see the recruits they have during the summertime before they start their pre-season workouts.”
Games are played on Wednesdays beginning at 5 pm and runs to 10 pm. “The girls love it because it gives them a chance to do something other than just workouts,” stated Scott on the league’s 10-week schedule not including playoffs, which is expected to begin in August.
Diggs’ league also goes into the first week of August: “There’s a break in between for the Fourth of July,” he pointed out. The DeLaSalle gym the last Monday night in June was full but the crowd seemed subdued, a stark contrast from the typical “neighborhood” crowds seen at Pulley games.
Carter noticed it, too. He assessed, “I don’t see as many young people [here] as when we played. I think people are still learning about” the league, he surprised.
“There are a lot of overseas players and a lot of ex-college players here along with the University of Minnesota players,” said another Pulley alum, Richard Coffey, while watching his son, Amir, a Gopher sophomore. “It gives [fans] the opportunity to see them play and watch some basketball in the summertime.”
Added Diggs on the crowd, “It’s a good, decent crowd. They are not going to come here and party.”
Both leagues have room to grow, the respective directors said. “We want to eventually do a high school league here before we have the college games. This is the YWCA and the place to do it,” stated Scott.
“Anything you can do to help because we are a new league — we want to make it the best as possible. I am open to a lot of ideas because this is the beginning. I’m looking for it to explode,” said Diggs. “It is tough but it’s something I enjoy.”
Yes, he said it…
“The same time everyone else did — I was watching the draft,” admitted Timberwolves Guard Tyus Jones on the draft night trade that sent Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to Chicago for Jimmy Butler.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.