Seven-foot tall former National Basketball Association player Paul Mokeski will serve as the head coach and general manager of a professional basketball team that will tip off just after Jan. 1, 2018 on its home court at the Rising Star Sports Ranch. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

“It is an announcement no one ever expected in Mesquite,” Andre Carrier, Rising Star Sports Ranch COO, said as he announced on Oct. 31 that a professional basketball team is making Mesquite its home court.

David Magley, president and COO of the North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) league said Mesquite is a perfect small market for the team made of players “who really want to play the game.”

The NAPB is a brand new league founded by Magley, a former Commissioner of the NBL of Canada and Cavs’ play, and the owner of the PBL, Dr. Sev Hrywnak. The league is designed to support local markets that would otherwise not have the opportunity to watch live “pro ball,” according to the league’s website.

Also on stage for the announcement was 7-foot tall former National Basketball Association player Paul Mokeski, who will serve as the head coach and general manager of the as-yet unnamed team. Each team will have 10 to 12 players with players ranging in age from the teens to the 30s.

Mesquite was the eighth-named team in the league following Rochester, New York; Albany, New York; Akron, Ohio; Owensboro, Kentucky; Kansas City, Missouri; Yakima, Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Magley is looking towards signing seven to eight more teams before the season starts in January. “Our goal is to eventually have 60 to 100 teams in the league,” Magley said.

David Magley, President and COO of the North American Premier Basketball league, announced Tuesday that Mesquite will be home to a professional basketball team with play set to begin shortly after Jan. 1. The Rising Star Sports Ranch barn will host 16 games through the end of the league season in April. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

“We want this team to be important to the fabric of this town and help impact the lives of the kids who live here,” Magley said. “Our team is here to play and entertain. We’re also here to serve. But, you’ll be shocked by the level of talent we’ll have on these teams.”

While the size of the Rising Star barn is small compared to bigger venues, Magley says that’s a plus. “The venue is tight but you’ll get a chance to know these players and see them up close.”

“Coach Mo,” as he’s known, said he is “excited to play at this level. At the heart of the league are the players. But, off court performance by the players is just as important as on court. This is a great product and great entertainment.”

Jokingly, Coach Mo said, “You can yell at me one time. You can yell at the refs all you want.”

Both Magley and Mokeski have years of playing and coaching experience in the NBA, the Canadian basketball league and college basketball.

Carrier said bringing the team and league to Mesquite will “help embrace the tourism economy in Mesquite which evolves around adult and youth sports. This is a fantastic extension of that. When we built the Rising Star barn it was about opening Mesquite up to new sports. We had yet to become a big part of court sports, volleyball and basketball. Today is a big step in that direction.”

Carrier and Magley said they will be begin a contest to name the team next week on the Internet. The playing schedule will also be posted in the next few weeks along with ticket prices and seat selection.

“Our goal on opening night, is to fill up the barn,” Carrier said.