By R.L. Bynum
Thanks to its Sweet 16 run, Carolina’s women’s basketball team will send a team to the USA Basketball 3X Nationals three-on-three competition next month.
Rising juniors Deja Kelly, Kennedy Todd-Williams, Alyssa Ustby and Alexandra Zelaya will make up the UNC team that will compete at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., May 13–15.
“It’s so exciting that our team’s success this past season has earned our program an opportunity to compete in the National 3-v-3 competition,” UNC coach Courtney Banghart said. “Alyssa, Toddy, Deja, and Z will represent the Tar Heels and they will do it well. They are eager to compete alongside some of the best collegiate players in the country while being back in the Carolina blue uniform together.”
Preliminary-round games begin May 13 and will be played on the Jerry Colangelo Court of Dreams inside the Hall of Fame’s museum.
In addition to reigning champion Force 10, a team sponsored by the Seattle Storm and the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, other teams in the women’s event include Iowa State, Kansas State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas and Villanova.
The half-court competition features 10-minute games with a 12-second shot clock. The first team to 21 or the team leading after 10 minutes is the winner.
The competition will serve as the final evaluation in player selection for the 2022 USA Basketball three-on-three team that will compete in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup on June 21–26 in Antwerp, Belgium.
The United States team, coached by Duke coach Kara Lawson, won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Kelly (16.5 points per game), Ustby (12.9) and Todd-Williams (10.8) were the three leading scorers for last season’s 25–7 Carolina team.
The Tar Heels lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion South Carolina, giving the Gamecocks their best challenge during the title run before falling 69–61. Zelaya, a reserve for UNC last season, scored a career-high 10 points in that game.
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications