Candice Agee and L.A. Premier Hope Chemistry Will Pay Off In Final Red Bull 3X Regional
Candice Agee has a simple reason why she thinks her L.A. Premier team will win Sunday’s Red Bull USA Basketball 3X West Regional at Venice Beach, California.
“A lot of us are longtime friends, together for almost 10 years,” Agee said of the bond between herself, Jordan Adams, Brianna Barrett and Tear’a Laudermill. “And I just think that with our experience together — two of us went to (the University of Southern California), I went to Penn State and then one of us went to Nebraska — so we all went to big schools. And when you put us together, and then add on the chemistry — we're all best friends - you know what I mean?"
In the last of four regionals, the quartet will be in pursuit of an automatic berth in next spring’s Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals, where 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams will battle it out. Pending the United States qualifying for the new Olympic discipline of 3x3 basketball, players for the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Basketball Teams would be chosen from the men’s and women’s field at Nationals, and not necessarily from the championship team or from the same team.
Even though the four players live in Southern California, they are far enough apart that they don’t get to play together as often as they would like. However, they stay in constant communication and discuss strategy as well as whatever is going on in their daily lives. Their commitment to playing more 3x3 could grow this weekend.
“It's kind of like, ‘OK, so let's talk it through, let's get it down mentally. And the times we can get together, let's do that.’” the 6-foot-6 Agee said of the group chats. “It's not very consistent, and we would all (like to play) more often, but we kind of made the agreement that it's like, OK, if we win the qualifier this weekend, obviously, we'll be going to the National in April. So, between now and April, we need to practice like at least every other weekend.”
Considering the chemistry and camaraderie L.A. Premier has and relies on, Agee does find it curious that some teams are sometimes put together at the last minute.
“I got a couple of messages from people in other states wanting to see if I want to join their team,” she said. “And I'm like, ‘Is that what they're doing? Are people really like playing as strangers?’ It's crazy. To me, (chemistry is) so important because when you have a smaller team, it's different, right?”
Agee is no newcomer to USA Basketball. She played for USA Basketball national teams twice, winning gold at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, and then at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Cup. Following her career at Penn State, the 25-year-old Agee has played professionally overseas the last few seasons.
While she has thought about what it would be like to play in the WNBA, the Victorvilla, California, native is content with where her career is and isn’t waiting around for her first training camp invite.
“I've gone back and forth on that a lot, actually,” Agee said. “I really like having my summer (during which the WNBA season is held). It's kinda hard when you are used to a certain kind of lifestyle, right? It's like, I'm used to being overseas for six, seven months and then having the summer, which is the best time in California, to do the things that I want to do, to spend time with my friends and family and things like that. And to play in the WNBA, I don't get that. So that concept has been hard for me to let go of, because it's such a big part of what makes me happy is coming home for the summer.”
With 3x3 gaining in popularity with a professional men’s league in the Big3 and an impending Olympic debut in 2020, Agee is hoping that a women’s league develops in the U.S.
“I hope so. That would be super dope,” she said. “I love watching the Big3 personally, because a lot of these legends are guys that I watched when I was 6, 7, 8 years old. It's so cool, because it's like your faves coming back to your favorite TV show that have been gone for the last 10 years.”
But now, Agee gets to spend the weekend playing basketball with some of her best friends. They will play in a qualifier Saturday to get used to the Venice Beach environment, then play in the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X West Regional on Sunday with something bigger at stake.
“As far as we're concerned,” Agee said, “with the four of us and what each of us brings, it's really hard for us to imagine that there's another team that is going to be able to lock us down or do anything that could prevent us from winning. And so, from a confidence standpoint, we're the most confident in the world.”