By Ian Garcia
Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league held its third open tryout date on Saturday as players competed for an all-expenses-paid trip to the BIG3 Combine in Las Vegas.
After stops in Dallas and Washington, the BIG3 traveled to Victorium in Scottsdale to assess some of the best players in the West. The players showed off their skills in front of league representatives, including BIG3 director of basketball operations Thomas Scott and Arizona Wildcats legend Mike Bibby, one of the league’s first captains. league team in 2017.
“It’s a free chance to go out there and show your game so you can play on TV, play against the pros, and be able to make a lot of money doing it,” Bibby said.
After the league’s first-ever tryouts in Dallas and Washington last year, four of the 10 players selected to compete in the combine saw action throughout the BIG3 regular season. Devin Sweetney, who attended the Washington tryout, joined Trilogy midway through the season and won the 2021 BIG3 Championship.
With this year’s trials expanded to Phoenix and Chicago, Victor Evans and Mesa native Jaron Hopkins beat 14 other players to clinch their tickets to the BIG3 Combine on May 14.
“Throughout the day, they were consistent with the way they played,” said Dion Glover, former NBA player and 2017 BIG3 champion. manner. We don’t want a guy shooting the ball every time. We want to see if they can pass, cut and make a play for someone else. We thought these two guys did just that.
Evans was pushed to try by 2018 BIG3 champion and MVP Corey Maggette, a good friend and mentor of his. Evans originally flew from Los Angeles to attend the Dallas tryout on March 4, but failed to qualify. Wanting another shot at making the league, he took the shortest flight to Phoenix and is now one step closer to achieving his goal.
March 19, 2022; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Mike Bibby walks away as the athletes warm up for the BIG3 Trials at Victorium.
The BIG3 is packed with Hall of Famers, former All-Stars and NBA champions, which can be intimidating to potential players. However, with his experience playing top Drew League pros in Los Angeles and guidance from 14-year NBA veteran Maggette, Evans is up for the challenge.
Regardless of experience, players invited to the combine will need to prepare for the unique playstyle of the BIG3, which was showcased on Saturday.
“Guys are checking by hand, throwing elbows into the post and hanging on offense, so it’s an adjustment,” Hopkins said. “I played in Europe, and it’s not really like that there. They call for a lot of ticky-tacks and intentional fouls. It’s physical here, so you have to play hard or you don’t belong.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the league is how it encourages players to be themselves on the pitch, which leads to gritty, unfiltered matches.
“You have to talk a little trash and be able to be physical,” Bibby said. “It’s not like NBA basketball where you go there and it’s all a foul. They let you play, so it’s like playing park ball. People talk trash there, and it’s welcome. You’re not going to get a technique for talking trash. That’s what people want to see.”
Now entering its fifth season, the BIG3 continues to prove that it’s not some kind of novelty act built on nostalgia. The league is exhausting all options to find the best talent available by rejuvenating and recruiting international players as it continues to claim its status as one of the best basketball leagues in the world.
“Players and coaches really get things done,” Scott said. “I feel like it can go as far as the people we’ve involved want to take it and continue to want to be involved. As long as we can continue to have top players, continue to keep our stars that we have and the fans continue to embrace this great league that we have, the sky is the limit.
The BIG3’s final test date is scheduled for April 9 in Chicago.