BY MIKE LUCAS
Senior Writer at UWBadgers.com
MADISON, Wis. — Whether developing an appetite for 3v3 basketball or creating his own clothing line, Khalil Iverson was more than willing to talk about his future. It went beyond small talk. Something that hasn’t always happened in the past with the reticent Iverson.
“In college, I was more reserved,” agreed the former Wisconsin player whose loudest statements were explosive dunks during his four seasons of competition, spanning 135 career games. I know the word, but more talkative and outgoing with people. .”
The other day, Iverson was speaking from his hotel room in France, the first stop on an international tour of US basketball culminating in the upcoming FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Antwerp, Belgium. The billiards game will start on June 21 with games against Austria and Slovenia.
Although armed with little experience and still being a newcomer to the 3v3 sport, Iverson cited some general motivations: “Going forward, if I’m doing well and continuing to be successful in the sport, I would definitely love to be able to play in the Olympics and bring back a medal.”
There are many steps before reaching that ultimate goal, the 2024 Paris Olympics. But when wearing a US jersey for the first time, Iverson said: “It’s really something you dream about. Just getting a call to go to the training camp – and having a chance to get on this team to begin with – is a great feeling.’ ‘
USA Basketball is in the process of growing the game and the talent pool, fielding several national 3v3 teams, on which individuals will be evaluated and accumulate points. Explained CEO Jim Tooley, “We’re trying to build the ecosystem to get more players into the 3v3 pipeline if you want.”
Iverson’s only previous show was at the Red Bull 3X Nationals in May (Springfield, Massachusetts).
“My agent asked me if I would be interested in going to a 3-on-3 test, the Red Bull session, and I went and I liked it,” said 24-year-old Iverson, who went on to explain some of the differences with 5-inch rims. against 5 in addition to playing in half court. “It’s definitely faster and quite physical too.
“There’s a 12-second clock (and a 10-minute game clock with the first team getting 21 points) so you have to get into your actions and get a shot real quick. The rebound and physique are demanding on your You I could be outside for a minute and be dead tired.
“So you want to replace all the dead balls essentially so you can have fresh legs in there.”
Joining Iverson on the FIBA World Cup squad are some 3v3 veterans: 5-9 Dominque Jones, who played at Fort Hays State and with the Harlem Globetrotters and won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games. ; and 6-1 Kidani Brutus, another New Yorker from Harlem and Manhattan College.
Rounding out the US team in Belgium is 6-2 James Parrott, the other newcomer to the 3×3 sport. Parrott, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, played collegiately at Midland and Bellevue University and also toured with the Globetrotters. Parrott, like Iverson, has only appeared in one tournament 3X.
On the way ✈️ Antwerp!
— USA Basketball 3×3 (@usab3x3) June 19, 2022
As for what Iverson, a powerful 6-5 jumper, brings to the sport, he said: “I definitely feel like I have an advantage because of my athleticism – rebounds and dribbling attacks. I’m able to protect pretty much anyone on the court. .”
It was one of Iverson’s strengths with the Badgers, the ability to defend the point or block. After coming off the bench in his first two seasons, he started 66 straight games over the past two years. Last year, he was a key player in the Big Ten’s No. 1 defensive unit (60.3 ppg in league play).
“Khalil Iverson can score from one to five,” noted college basketball analyst Robbie Hummel, a former Purdue star. I don’t think he gets enough credit for being the kind of defender who really impacts the game.”
Hummel made his comments in early March 2019. Iverson was on a roll. He had his first two career double-doubles in each of the last two regular season games against Iowa and Ohio State. And he scored double figures in 7 of the last 9, averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds, while shooting over 60%.
If anyone can relate to Iverson’s 3×3 baptism, it’s Hummel who made a smooth transition to the sport. Hummel was named the MVP of the 2019 FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Amsterdam. He led the Americans to a gold medal. Unfortunately, Team USA did not qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
After graduating from UW in sociology, Iverson played a year in the NBA G-League with Grand Rapids (Mich.) Drive, then-affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. Last season, Iverson was a productive starter for basketball club Lahti in Finland’s premier league.
In addition to averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds, he had 50 steals and 28 blocks in 20 games. Iverson has scored 20 or more points in five of his last eight appearances, including two consecutive season-ending doubles. It was all reminiscent of racing him during his senior year in Wisconsin.
“I definitely got my groove on being one of the main guys,” Iverson said. “In the beginning, it was new to me. The game itself. Playing abroad. It was new; it was different from playing in the G League, where it’s more about guys playing one-on-one basketball. That’s how I felt anyway.
“It was almost like Wisconsin (the Badger system) as far as moving the ball and trying to get the best shots. Stuff like that. I ended up being able to show everything I could do on both sides of the court. It was the exact same thing. (as a UW veteran.) I just perfected it. And I really focused.”
As for adapting to a different country, he added: “Finland is like Wisconsin in terms of the weather. Lots of snow. Very cold. The days are a little longer. It would get dark so quickly. I’m super picky about everything I eat. .After about two weeks, I was able to routinely go and buy things I knew I liked.
“Finland was a different culture. But I got my schedule down and I stuck to it.”
Iverson felt he grew up in the past year. Just as he had the year before. The COVID Year. Outside of basketball, and between shows in Grand Rapids and Lahti, he returned to his home in Delaware, Ohio. He loved being around his family again. His mother Tracey. His older brother Kevin Jr. Your sister Kourtnie.
From this reunion came the inspiration – Iverson’s clothing line, Thoroughbred Clothing.
“My brother helped me come up with this whole idea – it was just something I wanted to do,” Iverson said. “I’m a relaxed kind of guy. So we have sweatpants, sweatpants, t-shirts, hats, flip-flops, hoodies, all these kinds of clothes… Now, I’m just trying to expand my brand even more.”
Of the thoroughbred designation, he explained, “We have different slogans for our shirts. One of the slogans was a ‘different breed’. Like a thoroughbred. Of a different breed. Like a different breed of horse. Or a specific breed. horse, I guess you could say. Unlike the rest. Stronger, faster.
“I see myself being different from everyone else just in terms of the things I enjoy and the things I do in my spare time. Whenever I’m hanging out with teammates, they’re always asking, ‘Why are you doing this? Or that. ?’ Then it clicked. Also, my high school mascot was a horse (a Pacer).”
Iverson has come a long way from Hayes High School in Delaware. (His father, Kevin Iverson, Sr. passed away of a heart attack in November of Khalil’s senior year. He was just 43 years old.) Right now, he’s focusing on mastering 3v3 basketball to the extent that he can help the team. from the USA to win a medal in Belgium.
“While I’m doing this, I want to give everything I’ve got and take it as seriously as if it’s 5 on 5 – just like anything I’m doing, I want to try to make the most of it,” said Iverson, who is uncertain about his future plans. He would like to explore the world more. He also hasn’t ruled out the NBA yet.
“That will always be something I would love to be able to do,” he said. “Because it’s always been a goal of mine to play in the NBA, if I could say I ticked that off my list, that would be amazing. For now, I’m loving every moment and every memory I’m making and I’m just trying to do more.”
Like his unforgettable dunk against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament, held on the most famous stage of all, Madison Square Garden. Iverson caught the ball over his head in a lob of Brad Davisonone of the many former UW teammates he still talks to.
Davison, Aleem Ford, D’Mitrick TriceBrevin Pritzl, Ethan Happ and Carter Higginbottom they all discovered the same thing, too. He’s more talkative and outgoing than ever.