Gophers coach Richard Pitino wants fans to get a chance to see his players this summer, so he's allowing them to play in the Twin Cities Pro Am this year.
The league for college, high school and professional players replaces the former Howard Pulley Pro Am that ran for years in downtown St. Paul and in Eagan. The Twin Cities Pro Am is located at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. The league’s founder is former DeLaSalle standout Jamar Diggs, who plays in Lithuania.
Gophers players haven't participated in the local summer league since Pitino's first year in 2013. The Pulley League was gone for two years and the TC Pro Am didn't have NCAA certification last year.
"Our guys will do it this year," Pitino said on the radio Sunday. "It’s back up and running again. We had our guys sign up and everything. I know our fans will really like to see it. It will be good to get them back doing that again."
Current and former Gophers players can be seen on the rosters for the six teams this year, which play two games on three days a week (5:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) from June 19 until playoffs and a championship game in late July or early August.
High-profile freshman guard Isaiah Washington will make his local debut playing for N1 Motion, which also features Gophers junior and All-Big Ten forward Jordan Murphy, former Gophers guard Jamal Abu-Shamala and former Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor.
N1 Motion's first game (possibly with Washington) will be June 19 against the Errol Carlstrom Playaz at 5:45 p.m. at DeLaSalle High. Errol Carlstrom Playaz’s roster includes Gophers senior center and Big Ten defensive player of the year Reggie Lynch and Gophers 7-foot senior newcomer Matz Stockman, who transferred from Louisville this summer.
The opening night for the Twin Cities Pro Am on June 19 also has Hybrid Nation vs. Finer Way Inc. at 7 p.m.
Hybird Nation’s roster includes Gophers senior and All-Big Ten guard Nate Mason, sophomore guard Amir Coffey and ex-Gophers bruiser Trevor Mbakwe. Finer Way Inc.’s roster includes Gophers newcomer Jamir Harris, senior center Bakary Konate and ex-Iowa State and Gopher forward Royce White.
The first game for the other two teams in the league will be 7 p.m. June 21 with Team Jones vs. Diggs Team.
Diggs Team’s roster features Gophers junior guard Dupree McBrayer, senior center Gaston Diedhiou and DeLaSalle senior guard Gabe Kalscheur, who is a Gophers 2018 recruiting target. Team Jones features Apple Valley senior guard and Minnesota target Tre Jones, Gophers sophomore forwards Eric Curry and Michael Hurt.
The current Twin Cities Pro Am schedule is as follows:
545pm Errol Carlstrom Playaz vs N1 Motion
7pm Hybrid Nation vs Finer Way Inc
545pm N1 Motion vs Finer Way Inc
7pm Team Jones vs Diggs Team
545pm Hybrid Nation vs Diggs Team
7pm Team Jones vs Errol Carlstrom Playaz
545pm Hybrid Nation vs Team Jones
7pm Diggs Team vs N1 Motion
545pm Finer Way Inc vs Errol Carlstrom Playaz
7pm Team Jones vs N1 Motion
545pm Diggs Team vs Finer Way Inc
7pm Errol Carlstrom vs Hybrid Nation