Aug 13, 2020 - Sports

HBCUs are seeing a basketball resurgence

Five-star recruit Makur Maker has committed to Howard University. Photo: John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are experiencing an athletic reawakening, attracting interest and commitments from top basketball recruits at a level not seen since the 1970s.

Why it matters: The college recruiting process often centers around "What can this college do for me?" Now, as more young Black men recognize the power of their actions, some have begun asking, "What can I do for this college?"

Driving the news: HBCUs are becoming more assertive in their pursuit of elite prospects amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

  • In the past five weeks alone, Howard University landed five-star recruit Makur Maker and top transfer Nojel Eastern.
  • Mikey Williams, a top recruit in the class of 2023, listed five HBCUs among his top-10 schools. Five-star rising senior Trevor Keels landed three HBCU offers; five-star rising junior Brandon Huntley-Hatfield picked up at least four.

What they're saying: Maker says he doesn't know why it's been 40 years since a five-star recruit chose an HBCU, but with "this Black Lives Matter movement ... it won't be another 40 years until it happens again," he told The Undefeated.

The backdrop: Before top college programs began integrating in the 1960s and 1970s, all-time greats like Earl Monroe (Winston-Salem State), Willis Reed (Grambling State) and more attended HBCUs because they had no other choice.

  • Once coaches realized they needed those athletes to stay at the top of the college sports food chain (see: 1966 Texas Western and 1970 USC Trojans, the landscape shifted.
  • Now, HBCUs must compete with higher-profile, better-resourced schools to land top recruits, and for decades the scales have tipped heavily in favor of the blue bloods.

The big picture: Kyle O'Quinn (Norfolk State) is the only HBCU product selected in the past 15 NBA drafts, and Ben Wallace (Virginia Union) is the last NBA All-Star to come from an HBCU.

  • Maker will likely get drafted, and if the momentum he and others have helped create can last a generation, it's only a matter of time before Wallace has some All-Star company.
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