In preparation for this piece, I attended Week 5 of the Big 3 League, which took place in Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday, July 23, at the University of Illinois – Chicago Pavilion. Ice Cube, the Big 3 co-founder, Chance the Rapper, and DMX were some of the celebrities in attendance.
Rashad McCants was once a McDonald’s All-American. Coming out of high school, heading to the University of North Carolina, indulged in a decorated class that also included Raymond Felton, Sean May, and David Noel.
And more than 15 years later, what has happened to McCants?
After scoring a team-high 17.5 points per game as a freshman, he improved even more. Reaching 20.0 points per game during his second season in Chapel Hill, he earned himself All-ACC honors. The following campaign, in 2004-05, the Tar Heels went 33-4 and won the national title over Illinois, 75-70.
McCants then declared for the 2005 NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 14 pick. And from there on out, it was downhill. He failed to live up to lofty expectations, while simultaneously dealing with a multitude of injuries. McCants was later traded to the Sacramento Kings, prior to bouncing around the NBA D-League and Summer League.
In 2015, it seemed his basketball career may have finally come to an end, but then, in the summer of 2017, Ice Cube helped create the Big 3. A 3-on-3 professional basketball league, filled with former NBA All-Stars in Allen Iverson, Rashard Lewis, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, and others.
McCants was drafted No. 1 overall in the inaugural Big 3 Draft, by Trilogy. He teamed up with Martin, Harrington, and James White, forming one of the league’s favorites. After five weeks, McCants is arguably the best player on the court, as he looks in shape and as confident as ever.
He is flying around, finishing difficult lay-ups, ferociously defending the perimeter, and hitting deep three-pointers. McCants is averaging 18.2 points per game, and I saw him put up 19 points, while leading Trilogy to a perfect 5-0 record, with a 51-38 victory over Tri-State.
While Iverson, Lewis, and Ice Cube are stealing most of the headlines, McCants is quietly putting together a terrific season, and even though it’s a far cry from the NBA, it’s fulfilling watching McCants’ resurrection in person.
He’s always been an extremely talented player that seemed to struggle finding a fit in the league, but now, with less pressure and more room to breathe, McCants is showing the country what he’s capable of.
Photo Credit: Big 3 and The Shadow League.