Twin Cities Pro Am embodies Minnesota’s basketball culture

Every year, the summer basketball tournament creates a unique and positive experience for fans and players.

Former Gophers Center Daniel Oturu shoots the ball at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Nur B. Adam

Former Gophers Center Daniel Oturu shoots the ball at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

by Theo Franz

Pro Am tournaments are one of the few events where basketball fans can watch NBA rookies share the court with former Division II players. The games may not end well for the latter, but the diverse competition makes for a carefree environment. If mixed with Minnesota’s booming basketball culture, fans would be left with a spectacle unlike any other.

The Twin Cities Pro Am is that spectacle.

The annual summer basketball tournament is located at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. Team rosters are compiled with different levels of talent, with most players having connections to the Minneapolis community.

This year, the five-week-long event, running from July 9 to Aug. 11, is headlined by six teams sponsored by local companies and organizations: 4 The Love, EC Playaz, Fredrikson x MN Detailing, Lamb Chops, Strictly BBall and Team Tyus.

In an interview with The Minnesota Daily, Joe Doerrer, the co-owner of popular TikTok account @strictlybball, talked about his experience coaching his namesake team at the Twin Cities Pro Am.

“I would say it’s pretty high energy.” Doerrer said. “There’s a DJ at every game along with a guy on the mic announcing the game. The crowd is pretty into it.”

Over the years that crowd has continued to grow.

Word has been spreading fast across Minnesota with more people interested in the event than ever. Doerrer said he’s been to the tournament for the past couple of years but noticed “there’s just a little more buzz this year.”

“One of the guys who is running [the Pro Am] said, ‘this is what we usually get for playoff games,’” Doerrer mentioned while talking about average attendance for pool play games.

With the increasing number of fans at Pro Am tournaments, Doerrer believes it will create opportunities for more NBA players to participate. This year’s Twin Cities Pro Am is a perfect example of this motion coming into fruition, with professional players from across the country coming to play in the tournament.

Team Tyus, led by Memphis Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones, has been the tournament leader in recruiting NBA players. He’s responsible for the return of home-grown talent, now-turned professionals such as Theo John, Tre Jones and former Gophers basketball player Daniel Oturu.

Another team that has helped supply NBA-level action is team Fredrikson x MN Detailing.For one game against the Lamb Chops, the team acquired Minnesota Timberwolves rookies Wendell Moore and Josh Minott.

And while they are not from Minnesota, their appearance in the tournament has surely added an extra spark to an already electric ambiance.

Spontaneous visits from young basketball professionals are always welcome at Minnehaha Academy. The anticipation of seeing who will be the next player to walk through those gym doors and display their flashy feats of athleticism is one of the many qualities that makes the Twin Cities Pro Am so special.

The tournament’s surprise appearances aren’t limited to just players, either. Within the past two weeks, Minnesota Vikings Irv Smith Jr. and Christian Darrisaw and Minnesota Twins Nick Gordon have stopped by to watch a game alongside the Minneapolis community, Doerrer said.

“You never know who’s going to show up.” Doerrer said. “It’s always a surprise. That combined with the energy, I’d say it’s the best free sporting event that you could get in the Twin Cities.”

The Twin Cities Pro Am is a marquee event that immerses fans into Minnesota’s basketball culture. Attendees are able to witness first hand Minnesotans’ passion for basketball working symbiotically with players on the court, creating a positive environment rich with competition.

Its atmosphere is symbolic of the state’s ever-growing love for its hometown athletes; athletes who are more than willing to put on a show for the fans and community that have supported them throughout their careers.

The tournament’s playoffs begin on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m.., as the two seeded EC Playaz take on the fifth seed Fredrickson x MN Detailing. The Twin Cities Pro Am will conclude with its championship game on Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m.