While things seem to be very much back on track now with coach Courtney Banghart leading the way, the North Carolina Tar Heels’ women’s basketball program had been on a bit of a downturn. Not only had that been visible in the program’s play itself, with no Sweet 16 appearances since 2015 prior to this past year, but it was also starting to become visible in the pros as well. If we count players that actually finished their college careers without transferring away from UNC, no Tar Heel has played in the WNBA this season. While part of that is due to the fact that the league is only 12 teams and there’s just not that many roster spots, it also shows no Tar Heel had quite managed to become a star at the next level lately.
Hopefully, that’s changing. There was another potentially good sign of things to come on Tuesday, as well, with Carolina guard Alyssa Utsby gaining an accolade from USA basketball.
Yesterday, Utsby was named to a U23 US national team set to compete at a 3x3 tournament in the Dominican Republic, set to begin this Saturday. While it isn’t a full court 5-on-5 team, Utsby is on a squad with six other very good college/young WNBA players. Plus when 3x3 basketball made a debut at the Olympics last season, the US sent a team of good to great WNBA players. The same can’t be said for the men’s 3x3 game, but it’s clear that USA Basketball seems to value the 3x3 women’s teams.
In case you’re unaware, the 3x3 game consists of short little games that are played for 10 minutes, or to 21 points (with scoring going by ones and twos), whatever comes first.
The tournament the team is set to play in is the 2022 FIBA 3x3 U23 Nations League. The US are set to play in the Americas Conference, held in the Dominican Republic. Each day will feature a mini-tournament, with the teams gaining points corresponding to their finish that day. Whatever country gets the most points at the end will advance to the finals in September to play against the winners from the other continents. The US is set to face Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela in the event.
Best of luck to Utsby and the rest of the US team!