New 3 on 3 NCAA Tournament has a chance to become a big deal

Team Big 10 celebrated a victory. Steve Woltmann/Intersport

SAN ANTONIO -- The hottest new trend in basketball has arrived, and it’s 3 on 3 basketball. In the last two years, we have seen the emergence of Ice Cube’s Big 3 Basketball League, the announcement of 3 on 3 coming to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and over the weekend in San Antonio, the inaugural 3 on 3 National Championship debuted. The premise was simple for the first National Championship of its kind; each conference was represented by four-man rosters led by seniors who had zero eligibility left. Every game the team won, they won a thousand dollars with the National Championship team winning 50 grand. The inaugural champions came from the Big Ten being represented by Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio State.

The games are played to 21 points in increments of 1’s and 2’s, and the game doesn’t stop after a score. After each basket, that team has to simply get behind the 3 point line, and they keep playing. The first to 21 points wins, and so the game doesn’t drag on and on, the games are played with a 12-second shot clock and a 10-minute game clock. The games are fast paced and can be a ton of fun to watch. The big question is if it will be a must-see event at future Final Four’s or if it will fizzle out.

“It’s really cool to play in the first one and I think this is something that has already gained some traction and can be around for awhile.”

That was the sentiment for Amanze Egekeze, a Senior from Belmont representing the Ohio Valley, and I tend to agree. It’s different, played in a small gym and watching kids throw a thousand dollars up in the air after a victory, is worth the price of admission alone. Coverage and participation will be the biggest challenge for this event. I was disappointed that Rob Gray wasn’t representing the American Team as he was eligible to and that is the biggest challenge that I see. These guys already played a long season and in theory, could walk away with zero dollars only getting a free trip to the site of the year’s Final Four. Money is great, but injury for potential pros is a huge red flag and from what I was told only a few NBA teams were represented by scouts anyway.

When it comes to coverage, they live streamed everything on Twitter and then ran the semifinals and finals on ESPN 2. I knew I was going to San Antonio, but until I saw a player tweet that he was playing, I had zero idea the event was happening. The crowd wasn’t massive, and neither was the media coverage. Getting the big name guys to compete will be what elevates the play, interest level of other players and overall media coverage.

I’ve grown to become a big fan of 3 on 3 basketball and believe this event could have some sustained success going forward. Overall, I would give it a B; the event was fun, competitive and entertaining. The only thing it really lacked was star power but handing out $105,000 over a three day period should surely go a long way.

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