A lot has happened since the last time the Moneyball Pro-Am basketball league lit up summer nights in Lansing — a pandemic, the league’s longtime venue has been sold and redeveloped.
After a two-year hiatus, the Moneyball Pro-Am is back for a 17th season, June 23-August 4 (with a July 4 bye week). Games will be held at Holt High School, just south of Lansing. As before, it will be free to the public, donations being accepted.
“They really went out of their way to want to have him there,” league founder Desmond Ferguson said of Holt. “That’s probably the best place for that too.”
Ferguson, who played and coached at Lansing Everett, played college basketball in Detroit and professionally mostly overseas, said the league will once again be built around college players from Michigan State and beyond, as well as pros who decide to come back. He expects a number of players from nearby schools like Western Michigan, Central Michigan and, possibly, Michigan.
New WMU head coach Dwayne Stephens has been his main contact at MSU for the league for the past decade. But it started in the mid-2000s with Ferguson’s relationship with MSU assistant Mark Montgomery, who returned to the Spartans a year ago.
“That’s how it all started, dealing with Monty from the jump,” said Ferguson, owner of Moneyball Sportswear in Lansing.
Of MSU’s current roster, only seniors Malik Hall and Joey Hauser have previously played in the Moneyball Pro-Am.
The league’s popularity has grown significantly over the past decade as it found a more permanent home at Aim High in Dimondale, a facility that no longer exists after it was sold and repurposed in late 2019. early years, the Moneyball Pro-Am played to sparse crowds at a number of area schools, despite similar talent to the present day.
The difference now is that its popularity is established, peaking during the Miles Bridges years in the summers of 2016 and 2017.
“I was actually going to quit it,” Ferguson said in 2015. “It wasn’t anything financial, because I don’t make money from it. It’s just that the vision wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Like last year (in 2014) that was my vision, when you have big crowds, great energy, good players and just overall good atmosphere for families, friends and basketball enthusiasts, fans, the nine.”
Contact Graham Couch at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.