Kansas State’s women’s basketball team is heading back to the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals.
The Wildcats earned a spot in this year’s event after winning the East Region title in 2019. K-State won its pool and then triumphed in the semifinals and finals to capture the regional championship, which was held at Queens College in New York City. The event wasn’t held last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s tournament will be Saturday and Sunday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
K-State will send four players: seniors Rachel Ranke and Cymone Goodrich along with juniors Ayoka Lee and Emilee Ebert.
The Wildcats’ top player, Lee is a candidate for numerous national awards heading into next season. She averaged 19.1 points per game, a career high, in 2020-21. It was the best single-season average for a Wildcat since Brittany Chambers (21 ppg) in 2012-13. Lee also became the first player in the history of K-State’s women’s basketball program to register 450-plus points, 200-plus rebounds and 45-plus blocks in her first two seasons.
Other personal-best marks Lee set last season include field goal percentage (.621) and free throw percentage (.812); she led the Big 12 in field goal percentage. She was the only player in Division I with a field goal percentage of .600 or better and a free throw percentage of .800 or better.
Lee had 10 double-doubles last season, which included a 37-point, 18-rebound outing against Oklahoma on Jan. 31. The point total set a school record for points in a Big 12 game, and were the fifth most points in any contest in program history.
In Big 12 games, Lee ranked among the league’s best in multiple categories. Aside from the aforementioned conference-best field goal percentage, she also was fifth in points per game (19.8), sixth in rebounds per game (8.56) and fourth in offensive rebounds per game (3.11).
Ranke joined K-State’s 1,000-point club last season. She is one of only three Wildcats with 1,000 or more points, 300 or more career rebounds, 200 or more career 3-point field goals made and 100 or more career steals.
Ranke averaged 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per outing last season. She set a career best with 63 assists and tied her personal-best mark with 38 steals. Ranke has made 55-plus 3-point field goals in a season three times in her college career.
Goodrich, who has played three seasons for the Wildcats, had 68 assists and 54 rebounds last season, with a 1.31 assist-to-turnover ratio. She dished out a career-high nine assists Feb. 24 against Texas Tech. She had four games with five or more assists in 2020-21.
Ebert, a superstar during her days at nearby Frankfort High, was the only player to start all 27 games for K-State last season. She set career marks in every statistical category, and paced the Wildcats in assists (90; 3.3 apg) and assist to turnover ratio (1.61). She finished second on the team in blocks (25) and set the single-season school record for blocks in a season by a guard.
The quartet will compete in preliminary round games Saturday. Teams then will be seeded based off their preliminary records as the knockout round begins.
Purchasing an admission pass to the Naismith Hall of Fame secures access to the 3x3 tournament. This year marks the first time 3x3 basketball is an Olympic event. The game first was played in international competition at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Played on a half court with a 10-minute clock and a 12-second shot clock, the first team to 21 points, or the team in the lead at the end of regulation, is the winner.