May 17, 2023
After magical March Madness run, Mississippi finds success in summer 3×3
'That they saw something in us motivates us'
“Our main goal coming here was to give everything we had and to make sure that they knew our names before we left… and that we can help win,” Madison Scott of Mississippi told The Next.
Over the last two weeks, Mississippi women’s basketball have found themselves well acquainted with the mountain town of Colorado Springs, C.O., where USA Basketball has hosted the 2023 3X Nationals from May 6-7 and this week, 3×3 senior National Team Trials.
When scouting for 3X Nationals on the women’s side, USA Basketball identifies the top collegiate conferences and invites the top four finishing teams from each conference, ultimately gathering a field of 20 collegiate teams with four players apiece.
On May 6, junior forward Snudda Collins, senior guard Marquesha Davis, junior forward Scott, and freshman guard Ayanna Thompson took the court. For most, it was their first time playing 3×3, but they quickly dominated the competition. The newly assembled team won all three of their pool games, quickly adjusting to the differences of the 3×3 sport, before faltering in the quarterfinals.
“In those first two minutes our chest caved in a bit,” Scott joked.
Like most players transitioning from traditional 5×5, the Rebels cited serious 3×3 differences they’re learning to love. With just half the court, ten-minute games, and a twelve-second shot clock, the pace is far faster and more physical. The need for high endurance and versatility is vital, and as Davis and Scott progressed into National Team tryouts, the pool opens up to a pro and college mix.
But perhaps the sharpest difference is the mental side. To succeed, players need a high basketball IQ. They need to know when to foul, to cut, to set a screen, and to conserve energy. According to USA Basketball, the Rebels’ cerebral game was a large reason for their selection.
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This was perhaps best exemplified in Mississippi’s exhilarating comeback win against UCLA. With just three minutes remaining, the Rebels found themselves down 10-15 but powered back, largely thanks to the final 30 seconds, where Scott converted on a foul, and Collins sealed the deal with an off-balance shot beyond the arc.
“We have to get stops, get those dead balls,” Davis explained to The Next about the comeback. “We try to run sets every now and then to get those shots instead of trying to go one on one because we’re all fatigued by the end of the game.”
Scott, true to herself, also added that the team’s belief and will to win mattered most.
“I kept saying, ‘They can’t want it more than us.’ I kept saying that because anytime we get a chance to represent our school, we’re gonna do it with great pride,” Scott said. “So it was personal. Yes we were having fun, but we also wanted to compete at a high level.”
Davis and Scott move on
3X Nationals serves as a pool for the National Team committee to identify potential players for the National Team trials, and this will to win and drive to play is what brought Davis and Scott back to Colorado.
“In the case of Marquesha and Madi, when they played in the 3×3 Nationals together for us it was a no-brainer to invite them to the senior National Team trials,” USA Basketball Youth Sport Development Division Director Jay Demmings told The Next.
The National Team rosters will go on to compete in a variety of events these next few months, including the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, U23 Nations League, Women’s Series Open, and Women’s Series U24 Team, all of which Davis and Scott are eligible for.
Demmings cited the Rebels’ endurance, multifaceted skillset, and two-way playmaking as the reasons for their selection. He explained that the two stand out because of their high basketball IQ and motor during a long game. In their own words, Davis says her ability to play isolation ball makes her best suited for 3×3, whereas Scott cites her versatility and fast-paced play for her success.
Mississippi is the only program to have more than one player among the 18 athletes trying out at the 3×3 National Team Trials. Although Demmings says that a player’s talent and athleticism is paramount, he also explained the learned skills add to their profile. Mississippi’s defense-first mindset particularly translates to the 3×3 game.
“[Coach Yo] always says ‘guard your guard.’ Which just means being able to guard one on one,” Davis explained. “With 3×3 there’s not a lot of help so you need to be able to guard one on one.”
Playing for something bigger
And for Davis and Scott, everything always comes back to their roots in Oxford. The two always return to the pride of representing Mississippi and the skills they can bring back to Oxford for the upcoming season, which is bound to be exciting after their March Madness run and influx of talented transfers.
But it helps that they have one another. From the difference in play to the change in scenery, Davis and Scott rely on each other when analyzing drills or joking off the court.
“It’s a lot of fun because I know Madi,” Davis said, giggling with Scott. “Just having someone you know by your side. Y’all [are] here to pick each other and represent your school at same time.”
“I’ve just been so proud of [Marquesha] and everything she’s been doing,” Scott added.
And although they’re always representing Mississippi, the weight of playing for the U.S. brings an entirely new level. This is both Davis and Scott’s first USA Basketball invite of their careers and fulfills a goal they’ve always had.
“They could have picked anybody. There’s a lot of great girls and the fact that they saw something in us motivates us,” Scott said.
In many ways, it’s a dream come true, and they both hope it’s not the end of their USA Basketball careers. The Women’s World Cup Team roster will be announced on May 17, and the remaining rosters by May 22. But as Scott and Davis patiently wait to see if their names make the list, they’re also assured that if they don’t make this roster, they’d be eager for further 3×3 invites.
But regardless, Scott and Davis will see the international court later this summer on their Italy tour and in regular season play just a few months later.