MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jamar Diggs grew up in Minneapolis, played basketball at DeLaSalle and plays professionally overseas. He noticed something was missing when he came home for the summer — a league for players with similar backgrounds.
It used to be a staple, so he brought it back — and he brought in the local talent.
Back in the day it was called the Howard Pulley Summer League, where the young and old talent from the area matched skills.
“The Pro-Am for me was, when I was younger I got to play the older – the Troy Bells,” said Diggs. “It was kind of a passing of the torch to us young guys to see them do it, and without the Pro-Am there’s none of that. There’s no reason I come around and see a 19 year old, a 21 year old, so I wanted to put this together so those players can see us and be a part of us.”
So Diggs decided to bring it back using the high school he played in, DeLaSalle.
“Saw the necessity. It was gone and it fell apart and I just told myself that I want to put it together,” Diggs said. “I just wanted to get all the guys together and bring the best basketball together in the city and that’s why I wanted to do it.”
And the big names are back. Tyus Jones is looking for some competition after his first season with the Wolves.
“Any chance to play, get up and down. Working out, it’s only so much,” Jones said. “It’s different getting in a game setting, having a defender on you, playing five-on-five.”
Former first round pick Royce White is trying to find a team, so this is where he works.
“For me I’m just staying focused. Keeping my body in shape and preparing for whatever opportunity may come,” White said.
That’s why Diggs wanted it back. The appetite is there, and it forges a basketball bond in that community.
“We would come home and call each other up and say, ‘Let’s find a place to play,’” Diggs said, “and I said ‘We need to get something set in stone,’ and that’s what the Pro-Am used to be, so I said I might as well do it myself.”
So they come from all over — high school stars to small colleges to the NBA. You sense it is a place for the elite to make statements.
“It’s fun to get out and have some good competition from around here,” said Joel Armstrong, Winona State forward. “Growing up, high school, it was always good competition, and just to get back into it.”
Just what Diggs wants — a place to feel good about the game.