U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Team Earns Inaugural USA Basketball 3x3 Team of the Year Award
Following its historic gold medal performance as 3x3 basketball made its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, USA Basketball today announced the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Basketball Team as the 2021 USA Basketball 3x3 Team of the Year.
While USA Basketball has been recognizing a Team of the Year annually since 1996, 2021 will mark the first time USA Basketball selects a 3x3 Team of the Year.
The U.S. Olympic 3x3 Team included Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut/Port Jervis, N.Y.), Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings/South Carolina/Sandersville, Ga.), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington/Poway, Calif.) and Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces/Notre Dame/Princeton, Ind.), as well as USA coach Kara Lawson (Duke).
“USA Basketball is proud to have won the first ever gold medal in Olympic 3x3 basketball competition, and the team is very deserving of being named 3x3 Team of the Year,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO. “The team’s commitment to this endeavor was extraordinary as they also had to compete in May to qualify for Tokyo. We are grateful for their dedication, and we appreciate all that they gave to achieve such tremendous success.”
The 2020 Olympic Games 3x3 Basketball Tournament was played with eight teams, and the preliminary round saw all teams play each other in a round-robin format. 3x3 is played on a half court with a 12-second shot clock. Baskets made inside the arc and free throws are worth one point, and baskets outside the arc are worth two points. The winning team is the first to score 21 points, or the leading team after 10 minutes.
The USA opened on July 24 with a 17-10 win over No. 1 seeded France and a 21-9 victory against Mongolia that was earned with 3:00 on the clock. On July 25, the USA defeated Romania 22-11 with 2:38 left and topped Russian Olympic Committee 20-16. The USA on July 26 defeated Italy 17-13 and China 21-19. On July 27, the USA wrapped up the first round with a 20-18 loss to host Japan. Earning a bye into the semifinals as the No. 1 seed, the USA on July 28 won 18-16 against France in the semifinals and 18-15 over Russian Olympic Committee in the gold medal game.
“I’m so proud of this 3x3 team for being named USA Basketball’s 3x3 Team of the Year,” Lawson said. “We went through a lot of adversity to get there. Most teams do when you’re talking about something as important as winning a gold medal. I want to start by thanking Katie Lou Samuelson. She was such a critical part of our team and helped us qualify for Tokyo. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to go on the trip with us. Our team had to deal with not having a teammate that we’d practiced with and at the last second, we had a new teammate that we had to incorporate. That new teammate was Jackie Young, who did an incredible job on her own to come in late and really buy in and work with our team. Our team, which also featured Kelsey Plum, Stefanie Dolson and Allisha Gray, is a team that I’ll never forget what they were able to do, which is make history and be the first 3x3 team to win a gold medal the first time it was contested at the Olympic Games. It’s an incredible accomplishment, and they earned it with their play through the tournament. What I’m most proud of is they all earned it with their preparation the year before. Whether it was Kelsey coming back from the Achilles injury, Stef Dolson getting in the best shape of her life, or Allisha Gray becoming one of the best players in the world. All of these things happened together, they happened concurrent with one another and that’s why we were the champions.”
Lawson became the first person to win an Olympic gold medal as an athlete, which she did in 2008, and as a USA 3x3 coach.
Plum averaged a tournament-leading 6.1 points to go with 1.4 rebounds per game; Dolson was sixth in scoring among all tournament participants at 5.7 points per game to go with a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game; Gray tallied 5.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game; and Young averaged 2.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
“We all went in there with the mentality to win and not to come home with anything less than a gold medal,” said Gray of the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Team. “We are all so talented, and we each brought a unique skill set to the team that helped us to be well rounded and more complete. We got to grow closer off the court while traveling together and playing in exhibition games, which always helps the chemistry on the court. It was a really special group, and I’m glad to have shared this experience with them.”
By winning the Olympic 3x3 Basketball Tournament, the USA women qualified for the 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup.
Prior to the Olympics, Dolson, Gray, Plum and Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm/Connecticut/Huntington Beach, Calif.) were members of the USA 3x3 Women’s National Team that tallied a 6-0 record and secured the USA’s Olympic berth at the 2021 FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament that was played May 26-30 in Graz, Austria.
Dolson, Gray, Plum and Samuelson also played in the Big Twelve International 3x3 tournament from May 21-23, 2021, in Voiron, France, which was a warm-up tournament, and the squad finished 6-1 and in first place. Gray was named tournament MVP, and Dolson was named to the all-tournament team.