3x3 Experience Helping Olivia Cochran Raise Her All-Around Game
Unlike a lot of star high school athletes, Olivia Cochran has not been playing the sport she is so successful at for most of her life. She only started playing basketball in the sixth grade.
So, each new experience she has brings with it an appreciation of what she is accomplishing.
The next adventure for the 17-year-old from Columbus, Georgia, is with the USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 World Cup Team that is currently participating in the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup from June 3-7 at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
“It’s the greatest opportunity that I have ever had,” Cochran said. “I’m just so ready to go out here and play. It’s a big accomplishment for me, because I never thought I would make it this far.”
Her star is seemingly still on the rise. Cochran earned the right to represent the U.S. by being named women’s MVP of the USA Basketball Women's 3x3 U18 National Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in April. She teamed up with Madison Hayes, Treasure Hunt and Raven Johnson on team TGB to win the title. For the World Cup, USA Basketball has paired Cochran and Hayes (East Hamilton H.S./Ooltewah, Tenn.) with Rickea Jackson (Detroit Edison Public Academy/Detroit, Mich.) and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.) for the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup.
The four had not played together as a team previously, so they spent last week’s training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, getting used to each other’s games so they could be a cohesive unit in Mongolia. The U.S. won impressively its first two game on June 4, defeating New Zealand 20-11 and Russia 19-8. The USA finished off its preliminary play Thursday versus Poland and Hungary.
Before the 3x3 national championship, Cochran had not played competitive 3x3 basketball — which makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020 — and was unfamiliar with its rules.
“It was pretty intense,” Cochran said.
Her teammates on TGB for the national championships were from her AAU team and so there was confidence that they would do well. However, TGB lost its first game, which was eye-opening.
“We had to get focused, because we wanted to win,” Cochran said. “We had to go out there and play hard and stay hungry.”
That was the only loss as TGB won its final four games in pool play and three playoff games as Cochran earned MVP honors.
“I was pretty surprised,” Cochran said of being named the top player. “I didn’t do it all by myself. I had a lot of help from my teammates to be able to accomplish something like that.”
Cochran, who at 6-foot-3 spends most of her time in the post, said 3x3 has challenged her to expand her game.
“I played more on wing and had to be more versatile,” Cochran said. “I couldn’t be in the post all the time and I’ve been working on handling the ball.”
Those improved skills could help her as she continues down the recruiting trail.
Cochran was a Class 4A All-Star first team selection at Carver High School in Columbus, leading the Tigers to an undefeated season. She averaged 27 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks per game. She plans to take her five official college visits this fall.
“It’s been really fun, because I never thought all these coaches would be trying to get me to their schools,” Cochran said.
Now she is trying to build on her accomplishments with USA Basketball and wants, “to bring back the gold, to win.”
“It’s going to be fun, all the talent we’re going to go against,” Cochran said.
In addition to representing USA Basketball for the first time, this will be her first trip out of the country. She did a little research on what the weather is like in Mongolia — it will be in the upper 60s and lower 70s — so she knew what clothes to bring.
“I’m ready to see it for myself,” she said.