Timing is Everything for Camille Zimmerman, Both in Life and in Basketball
Camille Zimmerman understands the importance of proper timing. It’s vital in life and in basketball.
In a game, timing is vital to success on the court, especially in a 3x3 format. How a team moves the ball, finds openings, knows when to make a switch, it’s all a series of finding the right timing.
In life, Zimmerman had the right timing embracing a new variation of her sport as it really took off from grassroots effort to the growing sport that 3x3 has become. She’ll be representing USA Basketball this week at the FIBA 3x3 Women's AmeriCup that runs Nov. 4-6 in Miami.
“I’ve always loved basketball, anything I can do with the game to play more, I’ve always done it,” Zimmerman said. “It kind of happened by itself, and now I love 3x3, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in the sport.”
Zimmerman, a native of Mesa, Arizona, who played collegiately for Columbia University, first was connected to 3x3 through an old assistant coach who put her in touch with Force 10 Sports Management, which in partnership with WNBA team sponsorship has grown and runs four professional teams in the 3x3 circuit.
That helped the 26-year-old Zimmerman get her foot in the door, and then she did the rest proving she belonged on the 3x3 professional circuit. After playing the last two summers on the FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series, she’s now earned this selection, where she’ll be a veteran presence on a team with a trio of young players in Veronica Burton, Lexie Hull and NaLyssa Smith, who are coming off their rookie seasons in the WNBA.
“I’m not old, but I feel and know that with 3x3 there’s so much to experience in the 3x3 game that you need,” Zimmerman said. “Knowing and having that experience, that’s going to be part of my role, it’s going to be important to share that with the rest of the team.”
Zimmerman, a guard/forward, said the key to 3x3 is developing communication and chemistry with your teammates, which she hopes to work on during the week leading up to the competition with a short training camp. Knowing and understanding the timing of others, and how they are going to play, will be important to success.
While it’ll be a learning experience to understand her teammates, Zimmerman said she’s confident the group has a skillset that will translate well to 3x3, and that she’s learned firsthand how the format can make you a better basketball player overall.
“I’ve seen it myself, my 3x3 game has made me better at 5-on-5,” Zimmerman said. “It makes you quicker, you make smarter decisions, you understand the quickness and timing at 3x3 that you can bring to 5-on-5.”
Zimmerman still plays 5-on-5 professionally, most recently in Switzerland, but has already started to classify herself primarily as a 3x3 athlete.
“At first 3x3 was a way for me to think, ‘Awesome, this is a way to refine and scrimmage and play in the offseason,’” Zimmerman said. “But now my whole mindset has shifted. I want to play professional 3x3 for as long as I can. It’s become an important part of basketball for me to think about, how can this (3x3) become my main thing?”
And she sees a bright future for her version of the sport, particularly in the United States, and said events like the AmeriCup will only elevate it going forward.
“It’s fast, it’s exciting,” Zimmerman said. “It’s the type of sport where you can get caught up in it, think you are only sitting down to watch one short game, and then spend 10 hours watching back-to-back-to-back games and people just love it.
“As a player you think about how much more you handle the ball. Think about how at 5-on-5 you might just be waiting on the wing, in the corner, while others do everything. You can’t do that with 3x3, everyone is ready, everyone is moving and part of the play. It’s great.”
Zimmerman also sees 3x3 as a more equal footing on various fronts. The sport is working together with the WNBA to promote each other. Unlike 5-on-5, 3x3 is at a similar point in history for both men and women.
“It’s equal, it’s taking off at the same time for men and women, it makes it such a fun, great environment and a place where it can be a part of the sport that’s truly equal,” Zimmerman said. “I’m just so happy to be a part of it and see where it goes.”
Sean Shapiro is a sportswriter based in Detroit. He is a freelance contributor for USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.