Get to Know 3x3's Top Players
As the focus on 3x3 Basketball in the United States continues to grow, here’s a look at the No. 1-rated players in the country at the four major categories of play:
#1 Men – Corey Campbell (Chaminade University/Denver, Colo.)
What made you want to get involved with 3x3?
Campbell: I was actually approached by my teammate Derek Griffin, aka Vanilla Gorilla, and an old teammate, Chris Holloway, to play after I dropped 40 on their team in a recreation league. They told me about it, but I didn't believe them when they said we would be traveling. But after the first tournament in New York, I didn't want to stop.
How do you like the fast pace at which 3x3 is played under FIBA’s rules, as opposed to how it used to be played in the States?
Campbell: The fast-paced new style of 3x3 is so much better, more entertaining and way more fun to actually play. The old style where you check the ball up after every score is just so slow and boring, especially after playing the new style.
Team Denver has changed its roster up a couple of times in the past couple of years. What type of players do you think a 3x3 team should consist of?
Campbell: Well, we had to change up our team a few times because of certain situations such as injuries and job opportunities and other things. But I would have to say you definitely need an athletic big man who can play defense and protect the basket. And a guy that is between being a power forward or small forward, some guards who can get to the basket and multiple players who can shoot from the perimeter. But all-in-all you need players who have heart and pride, because I have seen some big upsets and a lot of surprises in this new 3x3 style of play.
In the past two years you’ve played in Tokyo, Puerto Rico and Brazil. How were those experiences?
Campbell: I would just say it has been a blessing. I couldn't be thankful enough for these experiences that have been like dreams come true for us to travel the world to these beautiful places and play a game that we all love. I have always wanted to go to Brazil and Puerto Rico. I have been to China, and going to Tokyo was like the complete opposite. But Brazil now is my No. 1 place in the world now to be. I could definitely live there.
Who are some of the tougher players and teams that you played against since you’ve been playing 3x3?
Campbell: I would have to go back to our first year playing against (a team from) San Juan. Those guys were very tough, physical and full of heart and pride in their country. All the New York teams are tough. It’s always a physical game against any New York team, and there is a lot of trash talking. And Arne Duncan’s team with that Princeton offense style, you can’t sleep on them or they will back-door cut on you all day. Saskatoon is a great team, also very tough and all four players are completely different and play very hard as well, and they can all shoot. And the guys from Serbia. They have a system that is just very successful, and it shows because of how many tournaments they have won. They play very well together, are very unselfish with each other, are very scrappy and all can shoot very well also, but they have yet to beat team USA Denver.
#1 Women – Jewell Loyd (University of Notre Dame / Lincolnwood, Ill.)
What do you think of the way 3x3 is played, with the 12-second shot clock and not having to check the ball after a made shot?
Loyd: Playing 3x3 and scoring quick is how I grew up playing. Every day I would go to the parks. The courts were small and you could only play 3x3, so being able to compete at a high level but with a style that I was accustomed to was perfect.
Does playing 3x3 benefit your overall game? How does it benefit your 5-on-5 game?
Loyd: I think 3x3 makes you come out of your comfort zone. You have to do things you normally don't do. I almost never guard the post, and yet I had no choice but to guard them. It made me more complete. For our team, we were the youngest and the smallest team (at the 2013 FIBA 3x3 World Championship). We had to play with a chip on our shoulder, and we had to come out with some swag for them to respect us. I took what I learned from 3x3 and brought that back to school, and it has helped us this season.
You won a gold medal in Moscow, Russia, at the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Championship. How was that experience?
Loyd: The experience was unreal in Moscow; I loved it. I loved playing outside with the music playing in the background. I think the best thing about the trip were the people. The people really made the trip. Being able to meet all the players, learning new ways of life, it was an experience I won’t forget.
Who were some of the tougher countries that you played against at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship?
Loyd: The toughest country for us was France; we knew their team pretty well. They had a great post player and some good guards, and they were one of the only teams besides us that wanted to really play defense. Sadly, their post player got hurt, and we succeeded.
#1 U18 Men – Ben Potts (Denver East H.S./Denver, Colo.)
Potts: It’s honestly just an amazing experience; you get to compete against some of the best players in the nation as well as around the world. I am able to prove myself with 3x3 and show what I can really do.
What does it feel like to be the No. 1 U18 3x3 player in the United States?
Potts: It’s a big accomplishment for me. I'm completely honored. I know what I can do and this, in my mind, really just makes me want to work harder and harder to get even better.
You played at the 2014 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament, but now you have a brand new team. Why did you select the teammates you will be playing with at the USA 3x3 National Tournament this year?
Potts: These guys are amazing athletes; we have the ability to be a championship team this year. We all can shoot very well, and they all have a high basketball IQ, which really works into our game.
How has playing 3x3 helped your high school season this year?
Potts: I think it has really just helped me prove to people what I can really do and put me out there. I'm not just a high school player now; it has made a name for me.
What are you expecting this May at the USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Championship?
Potts: A lot of competition, just like last year. Fast, athletic teams that are going to put their all into the game. Nobody is going to be handed the championship, we are all going to have to give it our all to earn the honor of representing USA Basketball as the 3x3 USA Basketball U18 champions.
#1 U18 Women – Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.)
Why did you choose to play 3x3?
Ogunbowale: It really helps with spacing on the floor and also gives me the opportunity to work on my post game, as I have the chance to post up some of the smaller guards I have to play against.
Has 3x3 helped with your overall game?
Ogunbowale: Yes it has. It’s helped me to see the court a lot better and find holes to get to the basket.
Would you refer 3x3 to up and coming players?
Ogunbowale: Without a doubt. 3x3 really gives you confidence because you have to play every possession. It makes you become a more responsible player.
What has been your favorite FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship?
Ogunbowale: I would say it would have to be the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. It was so cool to stay in the (Youth) Olympic Village and have the chance to be around so many different players from so many different countries and learn about other cultures.