Trey Bardsley’s Double Duty: From Teaching Computer Science to the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup
Though he is an unassuming 5-foot-10-inches tall and 160 pounds, Trey Bardsley isn’t your average high school computer science teacher from Nebraska.
That’s because Bardsley, a former NAIA star at Nebraska Wesleyan University, is a national champion in 3x3 basketball. And now he’s earned the chance to represent USA Basketball in international competition, with a spot on the men’s roster for the FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup that begins this Friday in Miami.
All of that may come as a surprise to students who unsuspectingly challenge him to a game of hoops.
“I do get a lot of students that do want to play one-on-one,” Bardsley said. “I play a few of them, but during the school day there’s not a whole lot of time.”
As Bardsley and his 3BALL Omaha teammates captured the title at the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals, which was played this past June at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, Bardsley was named MVP of the tournament. He scored the game-winner with a floater in the lane for a thrilling 21-20 win in the final over a heavily favored team from Harlem.
It was a climactic moment for Bardsley and his team, who like other teams saw COVID-19 push their opportunity to win nationals back a year and had never won a tournament of that caliber before.
“We knew we were good enough to make a run at the tournament there, and we played really well and got really good at the right time,” he said. “We were able to win, and that kind of spurred our success the rest of the summer and the fall here.”
A native of Beatrice, Nebraska, Bardsley played for Nebraska Wesleyan between 2012-13 to 2015-16. He was named an All-America honorable mention selection as a junior in 2015, and as a senior in 2016, led the nation in 3-pointers made per game.
Graduation from college normally would have signified the end of his basketball career, except that Bardsley was contacted by Michael Wranovics of 3BALL Omaha back in 2019 with the idea of creating a powerhouse team out of Nebraska.
“At the time, I hadn’t even heard of 3x3. He kind of explained it to me and what it was,” Bardsley said. “He said he had a few opportunities for me, so I got to play in a few tournaments in 2019 and just really fell in love with it. It was a lot of fun, and I’ve been doing it since then.”
Without question, winning the national championship put Bardsley front and center on the radar of USA Basketball. He had enjoyed his previous experience around the program in a camp in Beverly Hills, California, before the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifier.
Now, he gets the chance to wear the USA Basketball jersey in actual competition. Bardsley will be playing alongside Canyon Barry, Kareem Maddox and Charlie Brown Jr. — all of whom he has never played with before.
“This is a crazy experience for me, I’m super excited for it,” Bardsley said.
The demands on Bardsley’s time also are unreal, since he teaches students in middle school and high school back home in Nebraska all while maintaining his training for basketball.
“It’s a little tough. I wake up early in the morning and get my workouts in before school and work the school day, and then we have some practices after school during the week for my 3x3 team, so there’s some long days,” he said. “But in order to do well and play at the level I want to, I have to make it work.”
Bardsley was the shortest player on his 3BALL Omaha team, and his three USA Basketball teammates this weekend are 6-foot-6 or taller. He has proven, however, that his 3-point shooting ability and all-around skill set help to compensate for his size.
“It’s definitely a little bit more of a transition, but I’ve been doing it for the last couple of years, trying to guard some of those bigger players,” he said. “The 12-second shot clock really helps, so I’ve just got to keep them in front and contest when they’re getting ready to shoot.”
The Nov. 12-14 FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup features the top teams in the FIBA Americas zone, and Bardsley is confident that his new-look USA team is a top contender. The top-seeded U.S. men play Mexico and Venezuela as part of Group A on Friday. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, and the tournament concludes on Sunday.
“I think we’ll be ready to go, I think our team has a lot of potential and I think we’re all really excited to be getting down there and competing,” he said.