The Whirlwind Journey of the Venice Beach 3x3 Champs
The women of 3X on hoops, life, and staying resilient during times of change.
September 29, 2019 was a day Brianna Barrett, Jordan Adams, Candice Agee, and Tear’a Laudermill will never forget. On a cool, crisp day at Venice Beach, they took on all comers and walked away as the champs of the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Regional. Their team - LA Premier - cruised to a 21-10 victory over Force 10 Select in the finals to punch the team’s ticket to the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals, which was slated for April 2020.
At the time, team captain Brianna Barrett had this to say:
“Now we prepare for Nationals and get our work in so we can do exactly the same thing we did today.”
Of course, no one knew at the time it would be almost two years before there was a 3X Nationals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened since then – life goes on, priorities change, commitments pop up – but the love for the game stays strong.
LA Premier wasn’t the only squad who came away from the Venice Beach tournament as champs. On the men’s side, Team SLAM pulled out a Hollywood-ending buzzer beater to also clinch a spot at Nationals. That team was led by Chris Staples aka @EveryBody_HateChriss, Ryan Nitz, Van Girard and Julian Ducree.
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, these two teams began to prepare for nationals, and as part of their training, hooked up with elite, sought-after coaches Chris Matthews aka “Lethal Shooter” and Johnny Stephene aka “Dribble2Much.” On Instagram, many of us have come across their mesmerizing shooting and ball-handling abilities. For the players to see it up close and personal was a priceless experience to learn from two masters at their crafts with an uncanny ability to break down each player’s mechanics and weaknesses and help correct them on the spot. The fundamentals of their teaching throughout the session were rooted in basic basketball skills with a strong emphasis on how to slow down, relax and work on the little things that would help each player improve their game.
Every player had the opportunity before the training began to tell the coaches what he or she wanted to work on. Brianna Barrett got things started on the women’s side. She wanted to work on scoring off the dribble. Jordan Adams wanted to focus on shooting, getting a more consistent shot and staying balanced. The speedster, Tear’a Laudermill, rounded out things for the women’s squad by wanting to work on controlling her speed when driving to the basket and also creating off the dribble. The super athlete Chris Staples wanted to work on getting to the basket quicker and setting up plays faster. Van Girard wanted to work on creating for himself through contact.
Lethal Shooter explained to that group that, “Every time you put the ball down in the game of basketball, it has to be with a purpose.” Dribble added, “Being efficient with that twelve second shot clock is important. Be really efficient and direct about where you want to go and know what reads to make for that next play.”
And then the world stopped.
For Brianna Barrett, it was another moment to overcome in a life that hasn’t always been easy. She grew up in a single-parent household with her mother and two sisters and felt like it was “them against the world.” Brianna and her family went through a period of time where they didn’t have a stable place to stay, and they moved in and out of numerous places. But even through the hardships, her mother found a way to allow her and her sister to play basketball, and it became her sanctuary. It was the only thing that made her happy. She believes, “You have to find the little things in life that keep you sane and will get you through the hard times and keeps you sane during those hard times that the world throws at you.”
For Tear’a Laudermill, 2020 was a mixed bag of joy and challenges. Overall, she and her family focused on growing their entertainment company, which specializes in creating virtual and real-life photo booths/mosaics for weddings, graduations, parties, etc. Business boomed in 2020 and she was able to get even closer to family and rest.
Now, with 3x3 debuting on the biggest global stage of all this summer, the best 3x3 hoopers across the country are finally heading to the previously postponed Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals in Springfield, Massachusetts, taking place June 12-13 at Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Top NCAA Division 1 women’s players from Oregon, Louisville, Kansas St., Maryland and NC State, plus the Force 10 pro team will be on-site, which will make for a hyper competitive women’s division.
The LA Premiere team unfortunately won’t be making their way back east for Nationals due to other commitments, but Barrett shared some tips for the players who are going. She believes the winning teams will need to have the ability to play solid team defense, hustle, have heart, have good shooters and make free throws, as well as have “bigs” who are strong.
As a quick primer, 3x3 is played on a half court with a 10-minute game clock and 12-second shot clock, and the winner is the first team to 21 points or the team in the lead at the end of the 10-minute regulation.
In addition to the lure of a 3x3 national championship, the event will also serve as the final evaluation of athletes for selection to the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Team and will serve to identify athletes for other 2021 USA men’s and women’s 3x3 national teams. Held annually every year since 2012, with the exception of 2020 when the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 marks the ninth edition of the 3x3 national championships, the second edition of Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals and the second time the event has been held outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After the 3X Nationals, the new season of Red Bull 3X will kick off July 10 in partnership with USA Basketball. Twenty men’s and women’s qualifier tournaments around the country, plus four regional championship events, will help identify a new pipeline of 3x3 talent who have a goal of competing in the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals. Interested players can head to www.redbull.com/3X for more information and to register.