The roles were reversed.
Instead of students coming to watch the likes of senior guards Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, the basketball team came to watch the students as the annual 3-on-3 tournament began on Monday at the Ambler Student Recreation Center.
Using courts 1929 and 1941, there were four games going at once with games starting at 6:30 p.m. and continuing every 30 minutes. The 128 teams that entered all hope to make it to the championship game that will be played on the James Naismith Court inside Allen Fieldhouse before Late Night in the Phog.
For Manuel Mendez, sophomore from Olathe, seeing over 300 people come together over the sport of basketball was cool to see. Although he said he is excited at the prospect of playing inside Allen Fieldhouse, he is also apprehensive about the idea of it.
“It would be the most nerve-racking thing I’ve done in my life. It would be the biggest venue I have ever played at,” Mendez said.
At 7 p.m., there was commotion at the entrance to the courts as the basketball team walked in. All of a sudden there was a buzz around the facility.
As games finished, some of the Kansas basketball players jumped on the court to shoot hoops with some of the teams as they waited for their opponent to arrive. Graham made multiple tough shots, causing those who were watching to burst into applause.
With the world-class athletes watching, Jack Kolsrud, junior from Maple Grove, Minnesota, said he could feel himself getting tense.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Kolsrud said. “You are trying to impress but not [do] anything stupid.”
However, one team caught the attention of the Kansas basketball players. As a player completed a tough crossover that caused his defender to go flying in the wrong direction, the basketball team couldn't contain their excitement.
Graham, redshirt-sophomore guard Sam Cunliffe and junior transfer forward Dedric Lawson ran across the floor screaming and jumping up and down as the others watching laughed amongst themselves.
The players were not afraid to approach the students in between games, even talking with some for minutes on end. For Luke Smrt, sophomore from Kansas City, it was refreshing to see.
“It was good to see that they care about the KU community,” Smrt said.
The basketball players stayed for an hour or so and left in spurts after 8 p.m. The games continued on and even an hour after the players left, there were still students telling their friends about the experience.
The tournament will continue at the Ambler Student Recreation Center for the remainder of the week until Saturday's championship game inside Allen Fieldhouse.
—Edited by Brianna Childers