Over the weekend, UTA hosted the largest 3-on-3 wheelchair basketball tournament in the world.
The 16th Annual Dallas DK3 Invitational 3x3 Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was hosted at the Maverick Activities Center.
Twenty-one teams participated in the tournament, and four teams received cash prizes and product awards. Members of the Movin’ Mavs and Lady Movin’ Mavs teams, professional players and veterans took the court in the competition.
The Bulls, a team comprised of Movin’ Mavs’ sophomore Bryce Cruz and professional players Brian Bell and Justin Larson, claimed the $3,000 first place prize after defeating the Heat, a team made up of Rose Hollermann, U.S. national team member; Alhassan Sedky, Movin’ Mavs’ graduate student; and Justin Knowles, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, in the championship game.
Cruz said this was his first year participating in the tournament, and he enjoyed seeing athletes from different parts of the country come together to compete.
“It’s an awesome tournament. It’s a lot of people from all over coming to play — a lot of talent here,” Cruz said. “We push everyone to be better.”
Bell, a one-time Paralympian, said he didn’t know who he was teaming up with at the tournament, but he enjoyed helping younger athletes like Cruz.
“I love mentoring younger guys. If they come to me with questions, I try to answer them as best as possible,” Bell said. “If they see something that I’m doing, I try to explain it as much as possible in detail.”
Since he became the Movin’ Mavs’ head coach, Doug Garner has worked with Paralympic gold medalist Dave Kiley to bring the tournament to the MAC in hopes of accommodating the growing number of athletes who are willing to participate every year.
The tournament attracted Paralympic athletes, U.S. National Team members and UTA alumni. One such athlete is Aaron Gouge, who graduated from UTA in 2009 and claimed a Paralympic gold medal in 2016.
Gouge said the tournament helps the wheelchair basketball community in the U.S. by mixing young players with athletes who have more playing experience.
“It’s a really big deal. There’s everybody from Division 3 guys to national team players here all mixing it up together,” Gouge said. “For those guys at the top, it helps us just spread our knowledge and help develop those up-and-coming guys.”
Garner said the DK3 tournament helps UTA keep its name in high regard when it comes to the wheelchair basketball community.
“It shows that UTA is known around the world and around the United States as a leader in providing opportunities for people with disabilities,” Garner said.
Before the MAC, the tournament was held at the Grauwyler and Bachman recreation centers in Dallas, according to Garner.
Kiley said UTA’s location is beneficial to the tournament because it sits in the middle of the Metroplex.
“It’s the largest wheelchair basketball 3-on-3 tournament in the world,” Kiley said. “The venue is perfect, the location in central United States and DFW is perfect.”
Garner said he had to reserve the facility almost a year in advance to secure all eight basketball courts.
“Monday, I’ll come in and try to get it scheduled for next year,” Garner said.