If you ask any Trinity University men’s basketball player how they ended up at Trinity, it’s a good bet they’ll describe their school as a well-kept secret.
For players like Jacob Harvey ’25, a communication major from Huffman, Texas; Braxton Barry ’25, an accounting major from Houston, Texas; or Grayson Herr ’24, a mathematical finance major from Farmington, Connecticut, visiting Trinity in the first place felt like discovering a hidden gem: a university that merges a small-school atmosphere with big-school facilities and hands-on opportunities.
But after Harvey, Herr, Barry, and three more of their teammates represented Team USA by competing in an International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3x3 tournament in China this summer, that secret is going to be a bit harder to keep.
“After this trip, I think people are now going to really know what Trinity is about academically and athletically,” Harvey says. “This trip has really shown the kind of athletes Trinity has on a global stage.”
“I got to go to China with my best friends—and play basketball with Team USA across my chest,” Herr adds. “That’s something not many people get to say they’ve done. To be able to represent the United States of America was really an honor. I don't think I could have had this opportunity at any other school. ”
Six players from Trinity were invited to represent Team USA at 2023 FIBA 3x3 Under-21 Nations League Asia-Pacific Conference. Barry, Harvey, and Herr, along with fellow Tigers Jacob Millhouse ’25 (Plano, Texas), Abdullah Roberts ’24 (Houston, Texas) and incoming first-year Christian Green ’26 (a San Antonio, Texas native who got to represent his country before he even put on a Trinity game jersey!) made up the entire Team USA roster.
“We had the amazing opportunity to act as a scout team for the gold-medal-winning U.S. Women’s 3x3 team a couple of years ago,” says Trinity head coach Jimmy Smith, who also had the honor of being selected to coach the group overseas. “Our guys have done a great job representing themselves over the last couple of years, and I believe that is what ultimately led to us being asked to represent the USA in the U21 Nations League.”
After practicing together on campus for three days to get a head start on learning about the basics of 3x3 basketball (a faster, half-court version of the sport that was still new to many of these players), Trinity’s players were flown into a special training camp in Miami Lakes, Florida, alongside the USA Women’s squad, before leaving for China. In Miami, the group got to scrimmage against pro players, holding their own and building confidence.
For most basketball schools, sending a player to a national team might disrupt their summer training, at worst.
For a Trinity student like Grayson Herr, this opportunity meant having to call in to his insurance underwriting summer internship for two weeks off.
“I’m interning with a Connecticut firm called Arch Reinsurance,” Herr says, “So me calling in to tell my boss, ‘I need two weeks off so I can play for Team USA in China’ was something else.”
And Herr’s not the only one who’s been busy beyond the court this summer. Abdullah Roberts has been completing a supply-chain internship with Dell, while Barry has an internship with life safety and emergency management solutions business Monaco Enterprises.
But that’s why students like Herr, Harvey, and Barry come to Trinity: to be able to balance high-level, hands-on studies and career development with once-in-a-lifetime international experiences.
Barry says he's appreciated the chance to create connections, both between his various passions and with people from all over the world.
“Going to Trinity just allows you to explore different interests… and to meet and network with different people,” Barry says. “The ability to play high-level basketball, at a competitive Division III school that wins and helps you get better academically and athletically, all that just broadens your chances of being successful in the world.”
Surviving summer internships while playing for your country was one thing, Harvey says. Adjusting to the experience of a new culture was something else entirely.
Landing in Beijing, where the team got to see the sights for one morning, the players then took a bullet train to Handan, the site of the FIBA tournament.
That's where Harvey experienced a bit of culture shock.
“I knew a few people that had been to China, and they warned me—I thought they were joking—but they were all warning me like, ‘You're over six feet tall. People are going to just randomly take pictures of you,” Harvey says, laughing. “I didn't really understand what that meant until we were walking around, and literally everybody's taking pictures of you. At the tournament venue, there are hundreds of kids waiting outside for our autographs, like we were celebrities, which is not something we're used to at a smaller school.”
By the point in the trip where it was finally time to play basketball, the sport was a timely break from the pressure and the culture shock. Trinity’s team played for six total days, with multiple games rotating through various opponents each day, with the goal of trying to place as high in each day’s standings as possible in order to advance to the finals of the tournament in Mongolia.
Trinity placed fourth the first day, losing two close games by a point each, then got third on the second day and placed second on the third day before getting a much-needed rest day at the halfway point of the tournament. “So we know we needed to win out two of our last three days,” Harvey says.
If you’ve followed Trinity Men’s Basketball the past few years, there’s something you need to know about this group: They’re a good team that has reached the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship game each of the past three years.
But speaking candidly, they’ve also got a chip on their shoulders: “We’ve lost those games,” Herr says, “and we’re a team that’s ready to take that next step.”
Over the final three days of the FIBA tournament, even if it was a different version of the sport they’ll be playing this winter, these six players showed a glimpse of what—potentially— getting over that final hill looks like.
And it started with a simple attitude change. Herr, who is a huge fan of Ted Lasso, channeled the show’s titular character to address his Trinity teammates: “Ted says, ‘Be a goldfish.’ They forget everything instantly. There's no time to think about the mistakes you made. Just move on.”
“There were a few games where we felt like we lost maybe because of a really bad call,” he continues, “or one of our guys felt like they could have done something better, but then you’ve got another really important game 30 minutes later.”
The team’s fortune started shifting. While day four saw the team finish third again, day five started with two huge wins in the morning and went on to a primetime, high-stakes night matchup with China, the host team. “That was probably the best game I've ever been part of,” Harvey says. “China’s fans were going crazy, waving their flags, and the atmosphere was insane.”
And thanks to a few more choice words from Harvey and a “crazy” shot from Abdullah Roberts, Barry recalls that the team came back to win, putting Team USA in first place for the day, and keeping their chances of advancing alive.
“I honestly thought it was over with,” Barry says. “And [Harvey] says, just give it all you have, go out with a bang. So we all locked in, got the job done, and Abdullah hit a crazy shot to win it all.”
“That was definitely my favorite moment from the trip,” Herr says. “Playing in front of their home crowd was special. There's nothing better than environments like that—hitting shots to silence the crowd when you're in the opponent’s country, not just their school.”
While the team fell to Mongolia on the sixth and final day, ending hopes for advancing in the tournament, the team is heading home with a rich experience that’s going to pay dividends far beyond the basketball court.
For the upcoming NCAA season, Harvey says his group of six is ready to carry on their success by sharing the lessons learned from their experience with the rest of their teammates.
“I think that this trip brought me and my teammates even closer together than we already were,” says Harvey. “This is going to be a huge stepping stone for each of us moving forward.”
For Herr, who’s spending the rest of the summer finishing up his internship and visiting Chicago before heading back to school, the trip was a chance to show off Trinity’s values on an international stage, beyond the stripes on the basketball court.
“This was a really, really good opportunity for us to show people not only our basketball abilities, but who we are as people and what Trinity represents,” Herr says. “This is a place full of great people who believe that if you work hard, and you just keep doing what you love, then stuff will come about that you never thought would happen.”
And for Barry, who’s looking forward to returning to his support network at school and working toward a masters degree in accounting one day, the team’s international success just proves that what makes Trinity a special place isn’t a secret at all.
“At Trinity, you're going to have to put in the work, on the court and off the court,” Barry says. But it will set you up for success—and that work you put in here is worth it in the long run.”