Former UConn men’s basketball stars RJ Cole, Tirese Martin help win 3×3 national championship

The UConn men’s basketball team might not have made it to the Final Four in New Orleans, but two members of the team not only made it to the Big Easy but got paid, as well.

RJ Cole and Tirese Martin helped lead the Beast Coast Ballers to the Dos Equis 3x3U national championship tournament victory on Sunday, earning a team total of $ 70,000.

The Ballers – a combination of players from the Big East and Atantic-10 conferences – also included Ryan Hawkins of Creighton and D’Shawn Schwartz of George Mason. The team defeated American Made – players from the American Conference and Conference USA – 21-17 in the championship game. Hawkins, who burned UConn for 23 points in a 59-55 Creighton win at XL Center on Feb. 1 and helped the Bluejays sweep their season series with the Huskies, was named the tourney MVP.


The title game was worth an added $ 50,000 for the team, which had already banked $ 20,000 while working its way through the opening rounds of pool play, the quarterfinals and the semifinals. The payoff works out to 17,500 per player.

The tournament, part of this weekend’s Final Four festivities, was held at The Sugar Mill in New Orleans. It started with 16 teams, with teams from every Division I conference in the country. Games ran for 10 minutes (running time) or until one team reaches 21 points, with one point awarded for a basket, or two points for a basket made from beyond the arc. Beast Coast Ballers posted an overall 8-2 record over three days of competition.

Hawkins led the team in scoring with 64 points, closely followed by Cole with 62. Cole led all players with 8 steals, Martin was fourth in rebounding and Hawkins was fourth in scoring and second in 2-point field goals. Schwartz canned the winning shot in the championship game on a mid-range turnaround jumper. The lucrative victory capped a successful weekend for the UConn duo, who also helped the East squad post a 115-103 in the NABC-Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game on Friday in Caesars Superdome. Martin led all scorers with 22 points in that game, while Cole scored 13 points and handed out four assists.

Cole, a grad student, was the top scorer (15.8) and led UConn in assists (4.1) this season, while Martin, a senior, was the team’s third-leading scorer (13.6) and was the second-leading rebounder (7.5). . The Huskies posted a 23-10 record and made a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, where they were bounced from the first round by New Mexico State.

david.borges@hearstmediact.com

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