Kayla Wells Finds the Motion with 3x3 U23 Women’s Nations League Team
After Kayla Wells returned from a training camp with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky last spring, the former Texas A&M high-scoring guard didn’t know what her next step would be.
Then an invitation came for Wells to head to Massachusetts for a Red Bull 3x3 tournament. That weekend changed Wells’ trajectory.
“I really had a lot of fun doing it and I learned a lot in that weekend we were there for the tournament,” Wells said.
Winning a national title with her team, Texafornia, helped Wells capture a spot on the USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U23 Nations League Team and also the squad that plays in the FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series.
The U.S. is playing in the Americas conference in the Nations League with games taking place Aug. 13-19 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In addition to the U.S., other teams in the Americas Conference are Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
The winner of the group will advance to the Nations League Final, along with the winners and host nation from 10 other conferences. The final is set for Sept. 14-16 in Constanta, Romania.
“It’s a blessing to get to represent my country and get to play in the Dominican Republic against all these great national teams,” Wells said. “It’s a great opportunity. I just want to stay in the moment and enjoy where I’m at right now. Enjoy my teammates and the experience.”
Having played five-on-five basketball since her days at South Grand Prairie High School located between Dallas and Arlington, Texas, Wells had to adapt to the faster-paced style of 3x3.
“Once I got a wind for it, because you know 3x3 is pretty tiring, it’s an ongoing game and you don’t really get any rest,” she said. “Once I got through that conditioning phase, I was able to communicate, make reads and play at that pace. It took me some time to get used to it, especially when I made the Women’s Series team, but they also helped me out with learning the game.
“I’ve definitely seen my game increase just as far as moving without the ball, coming from Texas A&M we weren’t a motion team. We had sets and things like that. Getting here and having to go into a motion-style game, it was different for me but something I picked up on quickly. It has helped my game tremendously just because you’re having to talk a lot and to move a lot. It’s always great to add things to your game.”
Being a part of the U23 Nations League team also gives Wells an opportunity to be coached by Damon Huffman, who was a player on the first U.S. men’s team to win a 3x3 World Cup gold medal in 2019. He also won USA Basketball 3x3 national titles in 2017 and 2018, and a Red Bull USA Basketball championship in 2019.
“I love being coached by Damon,” Wells said. “He’s very particular on what he wants and where he wants you to be on those spots and getting to them. It’s always great to have a coach like that because you know what you’re going to get every day. … He’s clear and cut on what he wants us to do, so it makes it easier for us to communicate that and make sure we’re doing what he wants us to do.”
With the evolution of the 3x3 game and it also becoming an Olympic event, Wells believes this style of play is another avenue for players once their collegiate playing days are over.
“This was the perfect opportunity for me to get out here and get some experience, stay in shape and win some money in the women’s series,” Wells said. “I was talking to some of the college girls and letting them know this is a route you can also go. Because not everybody makes it to the WNBA.”
Joshua Koch is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.