I always wanted to enter the Hoop It Up three-on-three tournament but never did. Clearly, I missed out. It’s wildly popular and no matter where you go in this country, if you ask someone about hooping in the Hoop It Up, they usually know what you’re talking about. Now, a partnership will be taking the 3-on-3 king worldwide.
For the first time ever, on September 9-11 in Italy, FIBA is holding an Invitational 3×3 Youth World Championship for boys and girls 18 years old and younger. How amazing is that? Four players from both the girl’s and boy’s USA Basketball Developmental Team were selected to represent us. The boys going will be Shaqquan Aaron (Mater Dei H.S./Apple Valley, Calif.), Rondaé Jefferson (Chester H.S./Chester, Pa.), Malik Price-Martin (Monsignor Edward Pace H.S./ Miami, Fla.), and Jordan Swopshire (Fort Zumwalt South H.S./Ofallon, Mo.) while the girls are Kaela Davis (Buford H.S./Suwanee, GA), Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic H.S. /Owensboro, Ky.), Linnae Harper (Whitney M. Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.), and Taya Reimer (Hamilton Southeastern H.S. /Fishers, Ind.).
They will “scrimmage” against the Hoop It Up winners from the high school division who all play at Hialeah Gardens High School (Fla.).
USA Basketball announced the boys and girls 3×3 Youth World Championship teams will begin preparations for this FIBA championship on Saturday, Sept. 3, at George Mason University.
“A critical part of any team’s preparation is learning to play together and training against the champions from the Hoop It Up 3-on-3 boys high school division will afford our boys and girls teams a chance to scrimmage against experienced 3×3 players,” said USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director Jim Tooley in a press release. “I want to thank Hoop It Up for assisting our teams in their preparations. We look to expand our working relationship with Hoop It Up for future involvement with USA teams and FIBA 3×3 events.”
Pretty dope. Three-on-three with actually really good players rather than just random people off the street or average high school players? Sounds great. It’s adds a little something, makes it different. 3-on-3 isn’t always about the team with the best players winning. It’s a lot more isolation, and all half-court. That stuff makes a difference. If I’m drafting a 3-on-3 team from my group of close friends growing up, with one alternate, I already know who I’m hitting up.
For the sake of shielding identities, I’m going to use fake names (not that any of these guys are criminals). Besides myself, we had a guard who might’ve been short – about 5-7 – but he made up for it by being one of those sneaky good 21/3-on-3/H.O.R.S.E. players. Bubba Smallman is his fake name, and he had some of the nicest handles I have ever seen. He could effortlessly shoot from out to 25 feet and routinely banged four or five shots in a row from out of nowhere. His right-to-left crossover was vicious, and his hesitation moves were deadly. Defensively, he was worse than Steve Nash (and tried even less than Tim Thomas used to), but you have to take the good with the bad.
Then, there was Bobby Gold. He was the ultimate “psyche everyone out in warm-ups” player. That probably had to do with his hops (crazy) and his jump shot (ridiculously lethal). In basketball, two things stand out above nearly all else: anyone who can rise, and anyone who’s money from deep. Gold was about six foot, but smashed (basketballs) on the regular. And for someone who could never really latch on at the college level, I swear he must’ve been an all-world shootaround shooter. Go to the gym and mess around with him, and he could make 15 threes in a row with picture-perfect form. Seriously. In the games, he might miss those same shots, but at least there was a chance he could go off for 30 on all pull-up treys.
Finally, our big man. Dusty McGregor. What made him such a mismatch was his versatility. He was only about 6-3, but he could guard anyone because he was athletic, had NBA-sized hands and an enormous wingspan. He could stretch out his arms in the school hallways and touch both walls. Someone like that, with the game of a small forward and the length of a 6-9 person, gave us the dimension we needed.
We never lost. And we are still accepting challenges…
Who was your ultimate 3-on-3 team growing up?
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