Giants’ Waller was surprised by trade to New York

Newest Giants TE Darren Waller just married WNBA and Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum in early March, and a few days later, Waller and his former team, the Las Vegas Raiders, are now divorced as he was traded to the Giants for a 2023 third-round pick.

Like many, the 30-year-old Waller, who met the New York media on Wednesday, was surprised by the move. He found out about the trade shortly after his honeymoon. 

“I did not see this coming,” Waller said. “I was getting ready to just do everything I could to make myself available for the Raiders and get ready for everything that was going to start in mid-April. It caught me off guard, but it’s the nature of the business… It was a bit of a curveball, coming back one day from the honeymoon.”

With Waller’s wife playing in Las Vegas and he now in New York, it could complicate his marriage, but the six-year veteran is looking to make the best of the situation.

“She supports me and wants to see me shine to my ultimate potential as a player while I still have the opportunity,” Waller said about Plum. “So, I’m grateful to have her support, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to remain strong together, whatever the distance looks like, the timing of it. I’m grateful to have somebody that understands how things work in an industry like this, and we just go forward and make the best of it what we can.”

Waller had back-to-back one-thousand-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020, but the last two seasons, he’s battled injuries; however, Waller believes he’s figured out where he went wrong, and he believes he can put up big numbers again.

“I’m feeling great right now,” he said. “I know for me, the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make going into this offseason is making sure that I’m peaking at the right time. Something that helped me to elevate my game at such a high level was working myself so hard in those 2018, 2019, 2020 offseasons, to where it was almost too hard, and that became my norm. Now it’s about how do I become more efficient with it and making sure I’m peaking when the season starts, not showing up to training camp having worked so hard that I’m almost exhausted. That doesn’t set me up for success or the team up for success. For me, it’s about making sure I’m peaking at the right time and having those conversations with the organization. So far, just being here today, I really feel like it’s going to set me up to get back on the trajectory that I was on.”

The Giants need weapons on offense, and acquiring Waller gives Daniel Jones a weapon he can utilize in the passing game.

U.S. Olympic 3×3 Women’s Basketball roster announced

The four athletes who qualified USA Basketball for the inaugural 3×3 Olympic competition this summer will represent the USA at the Tokyo Games, including Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut/Port Jervis, N.Y.), Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings/South Carolina), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington) and Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm/Connecticut).

Kara Lawson, the head women’s basketball coach at Duke University and a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, is the USA’s coach/advisor, a role she has held since 2017. Since 2017, she has led USA 3×3 teams to six gold medals. 3×3 rules prevent coaching during games, but Lawson guides the team during practices and in its preparations.

“I’m thrilled for these four women, all first time Olympians!” said Lawson. “Their dedication these past 18 months to help position USA Basketball in Tokyo is being rewarded. Now, the real work begins. I’m confident that this group will be able to put together performances that represent our standard. This will be our most challenging tournament to date, but I love the competitors that we are bringing with us.”

All four athletes are first-time Olympians that have extensive USA Basketball and career accolades.

Dolson, Gray and Plum played in their first international 3×3 event in 2021. Along with Samuelson, the team captured a tournament title at the Big Twelve International Tournament in Voiron, France, ahead of the 2021 FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

At the FIBA 3×3 OQT in Graz, Austria, the USA finished 6-0, and while its semifinal win punched the USA’s ticket to Tokyo, the team also finished in first place according to FIBA’s rankings that are based on points scored. As a team, the USA averaged 21.2 points per game. Plum was named to the all-tournament team after she averaged 5.3 ppg., 1.8 rpg. and 2.0 “key assists” per game. Gray led the USA in scoring with 6.5 ppg. and 5.0 rpg., Dolson averaged 5.7 ppg. and 4.0 rpg. and Samuelson contributed 3.7 ppg. and 3.7 rpg.

Samuelson, who won 3×3 gold medals at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and the 2013 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup, will become the first USA Basketball player to compete in a Youth Olympic Games and an Olympic Games.

Currently a member of the Chicago Sky, Dolson is 42-3 all-time with USA Basketball teams, including five-on-five and 3×3. She first played with the USA National Team in 2013 as a college student and since has been on six five-on-five national team rosters between the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup and exhibition games. She won gold medals with USA Basketball junior national teams at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the 2011 FIBA U19 World Cup, and her career highlights include winning 2013 and 2014 NCAA National Championships at the University of Connecticut.

Gray, a member of the Dallas Wings, was named to the five-on-five USA National Team pool in March 2018 and since has compiled an 17-2 overall record playing for USA teams, including nine training camps between five-on-five and 3×3 teams. At the University of South Carolina, she helped the Gamecocks to the 2017 NCAA National Championship.

Plum, a member of the Las Vegas Aces, is the only FIBA World Cup gold medalist on the squad, which she earned in 2018. She is 44-3 with USA Basketball teams, including five-on-five, 3×3 and exhibition games. She won a gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Cup and a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. She finished her collegiate career at the University of Washington as the NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer with 3,527 points (25.4 ppg.), and she owns the NCAA single-season scoring record (1,109 in 2016-17) and the NCAA career free throws record (912).

Samuelson is 55-2 with USA five-on-five and 3×3 teams in competition and exhibition games. She owns one gold medal with the USA National Team from the 2019 AmeriCup and five gold medals from junior national USA teams. She won gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (3×3), the 2013 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup, 2013 FIBA Americas 3×3 U18 Championship, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Cup, where she was named to the all-tournament team, and the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

In its first Olympic showing, 3×3 basketball will feature eight women’s teams competing at Aomi Urban Sports Park from July 24-28. The preliminary round will be played from July 24-27. The quarterfinals will be on July 27, and the semifinals and finals are set for July 28.

Four women’s teams qualified for the Tokyo Olympic 3×3 competition in November of 2019 based on their FIBA 3×3 national federation rankings, including China, Mongolia, Romania and Russia. Three more teams qualified from the May 2021 FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, including the USA, France and Japan. The eighth and final team, Italy, earned its berth at the June FIBA 3×3 Universal Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

3×3 basketball is played with a 12-second shot clock on a half court. Baskets inside the arc and free throws are worth one point, and baskets made from outside the arc are worth two points. The winner is the first team to score 21 points, or the leading team at the end of the 10-minute game clock. Each team consists of four players, three on the court and one substitute per team.