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16 3x3 U18 Ballerz

Previewing the 2017 USA 3x3 U18 National Tournaments

  • Date:
    Apr 6, 2017

This weekend, April 8-9, 17 teams comprised of three to four athletes 18-years-old or younger, will convene on the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the 2017 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament.

Teams will be split into two groups for preliminary round play, held Saturday, April 8, with the championship round to be held on Sunday, April 9.

2017 marks the sixth annual USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament. USA 3x3 Women’s U18 National Tournament winners have gone on to capture three gold medals (2012, 2013, 2014) and two silver medals (2015, 2016) in FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup play (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016) and Youth Olympic Games (2014) competitions, while the men’s U18 winners claimed silver in 2012.

Eight teams will compete on the women’s side, with 32 athletes hailing from 10 different states. The winning U18 women’s team will be crowned as the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 World Cup Team and will have the opportunity to represent the United States at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup, that will be played June 28-July 2 in Chengdu, China.

The women’s field features eight athletes expected to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level in 2017-18, including Air Force Academy verbal commit Cierra Winters, University of North Carolina commit Janelle Bailey and University of Southern California commit Destiny Littleton.

Under FIBA’s 3x3 rules, each game consists of one, 10-minute period. The team leading after completion of regular playing time, or the first team to score 21 points is declared the winner. If the game ends regulation time in a tie, the first team to score two points in overtime earns the victory. Shots made outside the arc are awarded two points, shots made inside the arc are awarded one point and each made free throw is worth one point. Additionally, a 12-second shot clock is utilized.

All athletes in the U18 field must be 18 years old or younger (born on or after 1/1/99), and athletes advancing to represent the USA at the 2017 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup for Women must be U.S. citizens.

Western PA Elite, which is the oldest team in the women’s U18 competition, features a trio of 2017 graduates, all of which are committed to college programs – Desiree Oliver to Temple University, Michaela Porter to the University of Cincinnati and Hailey Zeise to Stony Brook University.

Bounce Back’s roster of Bailey, Aquira DeCosta, Littleton and Christyn Williams boast the most USA Basketball experience in the field, as Bailey, DeCosta and Williams were all teammates on the 2016 USA Basketball U17 World Championship Team that won the bronze medal this past June in Zaragoza, Spain. DeCosta is the lone participant with more than one international medal, as she captured her first bronze medal at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

Elite Force is back in the tournament for the second consecutive year. The squad returns three players from the 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, Dixie Lainhart, Meleah Morgan and Winters, and the team feature two members in Morgan and Winters who also competed in 2015, as part of Next Level.

This year’s most inexperienced squad comes out of Texas. The Lady Panthers are the youngest team in the competition with all four athletes expected to graduate in 2021.

Pool C of the U18 women’s competition includes Bounce Back, Destroyers, Elite Force and Hard2Guard, while Pool D features Denver, Lady Panthers, Metropath and Western PA Elite

On the men’s side, nine teams from six states make up the field of 36 athletes, including the defending U18 national champions, Ballerz, from El Paso, Texas, which enlists Michael Kirkland, Jawaun Newton, Tristen Newton and Mica Ward.

Kirkland and Ward, who also played in the 2015 national tournament and is now committed to New Mexico State University, are the two carryovers from last year’s championship team.

The men’s division, in total, is highlighted by four athletes pledged to play at the next level, including Western PA Elite Gold’s Austin Butler, who has inked to Holy Cross University, Hoopla’s Zachary Reichle, an Oregon State University signee, and Zac Woodworth, a University of Oregon commit.

Reichle and Warriors’ Matthew Gregory join Ward on the list of players who also participated in the 2015 3x3 U18 Men’s National Tournament. Derrick Prout of 2Hard2Guard and Hoopla’s Jack Roche round out the athletes with previous 3x3 national tournament experience, all from 2016.

Hoopla’s roster features three players listed as 2017 graduates, making the Oregon-based team the oldest in the competition, and it also lists the tallest player in the competition in 6-foot-9 Matthew O’Brien.

El Paso sends two teams to the tournament in Ballerz and Warriors, while Pennsylvania delivers three squads, headlined by Philadelphia’s MVP360 All-Stars, along with Western PA Elite Gold, and the youngest team in the men’s field, Western PA Elite Black.

Pool A of the U18 Men’s competition is comprised of MVP360 All-Stars, OVE, Warriors and Western PA Elite Gold, while Pool B is made up of Ballerz, Four Musketeers, Hoopla, Western PA Elite Black and 2Hard2Guard.

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