June 18, 2022 

Who to watch for Team USA at the 3X3 World Cup

Burdick, Cox, Joens and Van Lith are headed to Antwerp

The U.S. women’s 3X3 program will look to defend its Olympic gold medal at the World Cup this week, albeit with a new quartet of players.

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Cierra Burdick, Lauren Cox, Ashley Joens and Hailey Van Lith will compete for Team USA in Antwerp, Belgium, from June 22-26. Tokyo champions Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young are playing in the WNBA and are not available.

“Every time you wear USA across your chest, it’s an honor,” the 28-year-old Burdick said. “I am grateful for the longevity of my career and each opportunity to play.”

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Burdick, a 6’2 forward, was a freshman on the final Tennessee team that Pat Summitt coached in 2011-12 and graduated in 2015. She played in the WNBA for five seasons, most recently with Seattle in 2021. She said she is very grateful for her experiences and is focusing on 3X3 basketball now, although she won’t rule out a 5X5 return down the road. She is the only returning member of the group that won the gold medal in the 2021 3X3 AmeriCup.

“I love the pace of the [3X3] game and the versatility to play,” Burdick said. “It’s just different. I love the speed; you don’t have time to be frustrated, and you need to turn around if you make a mistake. It pushes your lungs. Every single game is going to be exhaustive, and the only way you’re going to get through is with a second wind. You need to drive through that.”

Ashley Joens averaged more than 20 points and 9.5 rebounds per game at Iowa State last season. (Photo credit: USA Basketball)

Joens is making her senior-level debut as well as her international 3X3 debut at the World Cup. The 6’1 guard/forward won gold medals at the Under-17 and Under-19 5X5 World Cups and is returning to Iowa State for an added year of eligibility next season.

“It means a lot every time you get to represent your country,” Joens said. “It’s a great honor to be included as one of the great players. It’s a little different game, more physical and more transitional. It’s a great opportunity at a higher level — 3X3 is faster. We are getting better and want to improve.”

Indiana Fever forward Lauren Cox (left) fights for position against the Seattle Storm on Aug. 20, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo credit: Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cox, a 6’4, 24-year-old forward, won the NCAA title with Baylor following gold medals at the Under-17 and Under-19 World Cups. She was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft and played two seasons in the WNBA with the Indiana Fever and Los Angeles Sparks.

Van Lith, who is from Washington State, is entering her junior season at Louisville. The 20-year-old guard was the MVP of the 2019 3X3 Under-18 World Cup in Mongolia. She also won 5X5 World Cups at the Under-19 and Under-18 levels, as well as the Youth Olympic Games.

Kara Lawson, the former Tennessee and WNBA great, 2008 Olympic gold medalist and current Duke coach, returns as the team’s coach. She also held that position last summer in Tokyo.

“It’s awesome to have a former Lady Vol,” Burdick said. “Our sisterhood is pretty strong. We are both University of Tennessee Torch Bearers, which is the highest award given for well-roundedness and academic excellence.” Burdick noted that she and Lawson are the only basketball players to receive the Torch Bearer Award.

“Coach Lawson gives us a better understanding of the game,” Joens added.

Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith dribbles during her team’s game against South Carolina in the Final Four on April 1, 2022. (Photo credit: John McLellan)

The U.S. will play New Zealand and Austria on June 22, then Brazil and France on June 24. The U.S. defeated Brazil in the final of last November’s 3X3 AmeriCup in Miami. The quarterfinals will be on June 25 and the final on June 26. There are 20 teams in the competition, including top-ranked Germany and reigning champion China. Canada is also in the field, plus Mongolia and Egypt, the top-ranked teams from Asia and Africa, respectively.

The Americans won gold in the first two editions of the 3X3 World Cup in 2012 and 2014, then won bronze in 2016. They did not compete in two of the past three editions, including the most recent event in Amsterdam in 2019.

Written by Scott Mammoser

Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 90 countries.

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