October 6, 2016
ST. LOUIS – Peoria, Illinois will be the home of the latest Midwest Professional Basketball Association franchise. The team will play its home games at Woodruff Career and Technical Center. The team’s nickname and schedule are being finalized, and will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Peoria is a market we’ve had our eye on from the beginning,” said C. Edward “Ed” Schumer, commissioner and chief executive officer for the MPBA. “Our first objective in choosing a new location for expansion is to identify a venue that shares in our vision and wants to work with us for the benefit of the community. We are proud and honored that Peoria Public Schools District 150 has decided to work with us and allow us to use their facilities.”
“It is exciting for our District to be able to partner with the MPBA and provide not only family-fun entertainment in one of our schools, but also form partnerships with players that are pursuing their dreams and can be a positive influence for our students,” said Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat. “WCTC Principal Dr. Cindy Lochbaum Janovetz and I are looking forward to working with MPBA officials, including PPS alumni, in sharing and building on our vision for our community.”
Daniel Ruffin, a Peoria, Illinois native, has been named the team’s head coach. Ruffin led Peoria High School to a state championship in 2004, and then starred at Bradley University, where he guided the Braves to an improbable Sweet 16 run in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. While at Bradley, Ruffin started 120 games at point guard, averaging 14.1 points and 5.8 assists per game as a senior in 2008. Ruffin was named to the 2007 Missouri Valley Conference All-Defensive Team, and was honorable mention All-MVC in 2008.
Ruffin then played professionally in Germany in 2008-09, and then for three seasons in Bloomington, Illinois, where led the team to two straight championships, earning First Team all-Premier Basketball League honors in 2013. Ruffin took over as coach for the MPBA’s Champaign Swarm mid-season in 2016, and went 4-4 after the team started the season with a 1-7 record.
“I want to thank the MPBA for giving me another opportunity to coach this season,” said Ruffin. “I am even more grateful that I have the opportunity to coach and represent an organization from my hometown. I look forward to what this upcoming season will bring.”
Peoria joins Bloomington, Pontiac, Champaign, Eureka and Jacksonville as Central Illinois cities with MPBA teams. Additional franchise-related announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
The MPBA launched in 2015 with six teams, and played the 2016 season with seven teams: Champaign Swarm, Pontiac 66ers, Lima Express, Windy City Groove, St. Louis RiverSharks, Gateway Steam, and eventual champion Chicago Blues. Information about the league can be found at theMPBA.com.