The Kansas Jayhawks have a major presence in Ice Cube’s BIG3 Basketball League

Towards the end of the first half of week one, Company 3 goalkeeper Mario Chalmers was so sure of where teammate Brandon Rush was that he threw a pass to him without looking. in the back for the easy bucket.

“Our chemistry is really good,” said 3’s Company coach and former Los Angeles Lakers star Michael Cooper, “because these guys know each other.”

Indeed, the players of the Company of 3 are incredibly familiar with each other. This five-man BIG3 league team from Ice Cube features three players who played together at the University of Kansas from 2005-2007: Chalmers, Rush and Julian Wright.

Typically, in this three-on-three league, a team’s captain and co-captains remain, but unless the team wins a championship, the rest of the team is reshuffled.

Chalmers, the captain, selected Wright with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 BIG3 draft and acquired Rush, who had been released by the Aliens team, as a free agent.

“I kind of picked up the sad pup,” Chalmers quipped.

Friends who message each other daily, Rush and Chalmers start together as Wright comes off the bench with former Oregon player Alex Scales.

3’s Company third starter, however, also has a Sunflower State connection. Michael Beasley played at Kansas State and played against Chalmers and Rush in the Big 12.

You’d think the Jayhawks would regroup and talk trash to their old state rival, but that’s not the best course of action when it comes to Beasley.

“He can talk to you,” Rush said. “You don’t start with him. He’s kind of like another Draymond (Green) to me where he can go all day.

And even though Chalmers and Rush led KU to the 2008 national championship, perhaps Beasley, 3’s Company leading scorer with 21 points per game, has bragging rights because Kansas State was the first team to defeat KU. this year.

“He has no s – – -,” Chalmers joked of Beasley.

Chalmers and Beasley also played together on the Miami Heat.

Before playing in the NBA, Chalmers delivered the famous “Mario’s Miracle”. That three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left sent the 2008 National Championship into overtime.

He showed he was still clutch when he hit the winning move in the first week for 3’s Company.

Another former KU player, Darnell Jackson, came close to joining 3’s Company. Chalmers called Jackson before the draft and said he wanted to pick him, but he was taken by the Ghost Ballers at No. 3 overall before Company 3 could pick him at No. 5.

It will be like a KU reunion on July 17 when Jackson’s Ghost Ballers play against 3’s Company.

“I’m excited, man, to play against my ex-teammates, my brothers,” Jackson said.

Those brothers – Jackson, Chalmers and Rush – represented KU’s last championship team – until the Jayhawks beat North Carolina in April.

Wright, who left for the NBA before KU won the title in 2008 and now plays in the Taiwanese professional league, watched on his phone via YouTube while lifting weights with his Taichung Wagor Suns teammates as KU fell behind in the first half.

“All of my teammates,” Wright said, “they were throwing criticism at me.”

As Wright watched the championship return overseas, Chalmers and Rush saw it in person at Caesars Superdome, as KU came back from a 15-point halftime deficit.

Additionally, Brandon’s nephew Shea played in North Carolina under Roy Williams and was also at the game.

“He came in at halftime with his beers and stuff and he was just super happy and he was talking messy,” Brandon Rush said. “And then he disappeared for the rest of the night.”

Unlike KU players of the past, current players can enjoy their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). And KU is at the forefront of NIL. The school alumni have formed a collective called 6th Man Strategies to support their current players.

“It’s a great time to be a college athlete right now,” Rush said. “They give you millions of dollars just for your face, your image and your likeness. It’s good to see. I love it.”

After earning NBA paychecks for nine years, Rush, soon to be 37, now works for CBS Sports and has appeared on Inside college basketball Last year.

After winning two NBA titles with the Heat as part of his nine-year NBA career, Chalmers, 36, played for Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League last year and remains undecided about his future in the NBA. basketball.

“I’m just going to see what falls in my lap,” he said.

Wright, 35, played four years in the NBA and then had a long career overseas. He hopes to play another two or three years at the international.

With Wright playing overseas, the BIG3 allowed him to reconnect with his former KU teammates. This is something he reflected on after a Company of 3 practice in Chicago.

“That’s great,” he said. “It’s kind of like the reset for me, just trying to definitely be more in touch with everyone because we have these type of moments, with this camaraderie.”

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