USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournaments Set For April 30 Tip, Winning Teams Will Represent USA At FIBA 3x3 U18 Worlds
This summer USA Basketball will look to defend its women’s gold medal and improve upon its best men’s U18 3x3 finish, a silver medal won by the 2012 USA U18 3x3 squad, at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, that will be held June 4-7 in Debrecen, Hungary.
Unlike most USA Basketball teams, there are no trials held for the USA 3x3 U18 World Championship squads, each of which will be made up of four athletes who are 18 years old or younger (born on or before Jan. 1, 1997). Instead, the winning men’s and women’s teams at the 2015 USA Basketball U18 3x3 National Tournament, slated for April 30-May 3, will earn the opportunity to represent the United States this summer in Hungary.
The FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship has been held on an annual basis since 2011, except in the years of the Summer Youth Olympic Games (2010, 2014). Twenty-four men’s and 24 women’s teams are expected to compete in the four-day event, which will include skills and dunk contests.
Why compete for the USA 3x3 U18 National Tournament title?
For starters, it helps hone a player’s skill-set for the full-court game. Just ask the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Brianna Turner, who has had an incredible freshman season playing for the University of Notre Dame. She won gold medals at the 2012 and 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships and improved along the way.
“It definitely (helped my game),” said Turner. “Not having a coach there, you really have to communicate with your teammates, because no one is there to tell you what to do. No one is on the sidelines screaming at you about what you’re missing. So, you really have to work together as a team.”
Another athlete who saw benefits from playing in a pair of FIBA 3x3 U18 Worlds is Larry Austin, a freshman at Xavier University this year who won a gold medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas U18 3x3 Championship and a silver at the 2012 FIBA 3x3 U18s.
“3x3 did help me with my basketball skills,” said Austin. “It helped me with my one-on-one play, guarding the ball with not a lot of help and making quick decisions.”
The USA women’s 3x3 U18 teams have compiled a 41-5 overall record and captured gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and the 2012 and 2013 FIBA U18 World Championships, while winning a pair of bronze medals at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and 2011 FIBA U18 World Championship (honorary bronze).
Notable female athletes who have competed for the USA at the 3x3 U18s/Youth Olympic Games include: Napheesa Collier (2014), Kaela Davis (2011, 2012), Diamond DeShields (2012), Arike Ogunbowale (2013, 2014), Katie Lou Samuelson (2013, 2014), Kiah Stokes (2010) and Turner (2012, 2013).
Including results from the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and results from the 2011-2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, the USA men are 27-10 all-time, and earned the silver medal in 2012 and placed fourth in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
Notable male athletes who have competed for the USA at the 3x3 U18s/Youth Olympic Games include: Cliff Alexander (2013), Austin (2012, 2013), Sterling Gibbs (2010) and Rondaé Hollis-Jefferson (2011, 2012).
While the USA 3x3 U18 men haven’t struck gold yet, Austin feels it can be done.
“Some advice I would like to give to the 3x3 U18 team that will be traveling (to Hungary) is to play hard at all times and be aggressive, because teams overseas try to out-tough opponents,” he said. “Play together, get stops, rebound at a high level, and play with lots of intensity.”
To date, four men’s and two women’s teams have qualified to compete in the 2015 USA U18 3x3s, two of the men’s teams qualified out of Colorado’s Ponderosa High School 3x3 Tournaments last November and the other four teams, two men’s and two women’s teams, qualified out of the Hoop It Up Denver / GMAYBBL (Green Mountain and Alameda Youth Basketball) 3x3 tournament held last October. The remaining men’s teams will come from the Southwest Select, Bam Jam, Give N Go, Maui Sports Academy and Winston-Salem Stealers men’s 3x3 U18 tournaments. The women’s field will be made up of representatives from the Hoop it Up, Southwest Select, Bam Jam, South Denver, Maui Sports Academy and Winston-Salem Stealers women’s 3x3 U18 tournaments.
Dates and sites for the remaining qualifying tournaments for the 2015 USA U18 3x3 National Tournament are as follows:
|Spring Bam Jam||March 21-22, 2015||Boise, Idaho|
|Maui Sports Academy||March 29, 2015||Honolulu, Hawaii|
|Winston-Salem Stealers||March 29, 2015||Winston-Salem, North Carolina|
|Southwest Select||April 4, 2015||El Paso, Texas|
|Give N Go (men only)||April 8, 2015||Phoenix, Arizona|
|Hoop it Up (women only)||TBD||TBD|
|South Denver (women only)||TBD||Denver, Colorado|
For athletes hoping to win the USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament and compete on the world stage, Turner has some words of advice.
“I definitely have to say that you have to work on playing hard the whole 10 minutes because it goes by really quick,” she said. “So, you have to always play hard. Also, you should do some practicing outside because 3x3 is played outside. It’s a lot of playing inside as well, but mainly coaching yourself, working with others and conditioning outside.”
Not only does playing for USA Basketball help players become better at the full court game, it provides some unforgettable moments that will last a lifetime.
“Some of my favorite memories with the team is just hanging out together and getting to know both the girls team and guys team from USA,” said Austin, who also earned a gold medal playing for the USA at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. “And also interacting with other athletes around the world, I thought they were pretty cool and funny to hang around.”
This year eight talented young athletes from the United States will earn the right to compete for USA Basketball on the world stage. While the outcome is unknown, these are certainties: they will come away from the trip with stories, friendships and memories. And hopefully some shiny new hardware.