Three former University of Kentucky players were part of championship squads at USA Basketball’s 3x3 national tournament on Sunday.
DeAndre Liggins, Linnae Harper and Alexis Jennings all earned the right to represent the U.S. at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Championship on Oct. 11-15 in Guangzhou, China.
Liggins, who will be the Cleveland Cavaliers for their training camp, teamed with Stefhon Hannah (Missouri), Myke Henry (DePaul) and Alfonzo McKinnie (Wisconsin-Green Bay) to make a undefeated run in the men’s tournament. All four players for 3Ball Premier, which was 8-0) are originally from Chicago.
Harper and Jennings, who both transferred from Kentucky over the past year, were part of Defend, which was 6-2 during its run to the women’s championship. Harper (now at Ohio State) and Jennings (South Carolina) were joined on the squad by Natalie Romeo (Washington) and Chatrice White (Florida State).
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Harper, who was the MVP of the women’s tournament. “To be here, representing the USA, and getting the opportunity to play at the next level is a wonderful opportunity. All the credit goes to my teammates. We worked hard in a limited time. We battled on and off the court. We played well.”
Liggins’ team’s championship came with a bit of controversy.
Harlem’s Kavon Lytch was called for an offensive foul on Liggins with 48 seconds remaining on the clock and the score tied at 19-all. With Harlem in the bonus, Liggins hit both free throws to give his team the 21-19 victory.
Harlem protested the ruling that awarded Liggins two free throws and after the protest was approved, the final 48 seconds were replayed, with the same result. With 36 seconds remaining and the score still tied 19-19, Hannah received a pass from Liggins and hit a two-pointer to give 3Ball Premier the 21-19 victory.
“DeAndre, he got the rebound and he kicked it to me,” Hannah said of the final play. “I was open, the big guy (Lytch), he tried to close out and when I released, I didn’t even see it go in because he was so big. I fell back and saw the reaction by everyone else, I was like, ‘Oh, I made it!’
“It was tough, very tough (to come back to play the final 48 seconds again). When you already think you’ve won the game, we celebrated and everything. But, those are the rules. We kind of were mad, but we’re proud, we’re from Chicago and we want to win the right way. We thought about it, came together and said let’s just get it.”
Henry was the men’s tournament’s MVP.
In other events, Harper won the women’s Skills Challenge. Jennings and White won the Partner Hot Shot.