Black Lives Matter Protests Spawn Push for Athletes to Attend HBCUs
Posted By: Will Moss on July 22, 2020 |
Makur Maker, a star basketball recruit, chose Howard University over offers from U.C.L.A. and Kentucky, and said he hoped other athletes would consider programs at historically Black institutions.
By Annika Hammerschlag
On June 2, as Black Lives Matter protesters swarmed America’s streets demanding an end to the racist vestiges of America’s troubled past, a teenager from a San Diego suburb posted eight words on Twitter that would soon ignite a less visible, though perhaps just as powerful, movement.
“Going to an HBCU wouldn’t be too bad,” he wrote.
The person behind the Twitter post, which quickly went viral, is one of the most sought-after college basketball recruits of the Class of 2023: 16-year-old Mikey Williams. If he were to attend a historically Black college or university, Williams would become one of the highest-rated athletes to do so post-integration.
Williams’s post came as a surprise to college sports recruiters and fans who pore over social media for clues about which schools an athlete might be favoring. To land a recruit like Williams would all but guarantee a team’s success and ensure prime TV placement for their games.
Williams, who averages 30 points per game for San Ysidro High School, had already amassed offers from some of the country’s top basketball programs, including Kansas and U.C.L.A. In the six days following his tweet, he received another 14 — all from H.B.C.U.s. Black colleges in the past have considered the effort and resources to recruit elite talent a waste because of the long odds of being selected over a predominantly white institution. But in January of this year, LeVelle Moton, the head basketball coach at historically Black North Carolina Central University, offered a scholarship to LeBron James Jr., a high school freshman known as Bronny who is the son of the N.B.A. superstar LeBron James.
Mikey Williams during a June 2019 camp in Norwalk, Calif. Williams grabbed attention in the college basketball world when he said he would consider attending a historically Black college or university.Credit...Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire, via Getty Images
As more top Black athletes express interest in an H.
B.C.U. movement, they are signaling that Power 5 institutions may no longer hold the same allure.
“All it takes is one person to change history,” the N.B.A. star Carmelo Anthony wrote on Instagram, referencing Williams’s comments. Days after Williams’s post, Nate Tabor, a top basketball player from Queens withdrew his commitment from St. John’s to sign with Norfolk State, a small Black college.
On July 3, Makur Maker, a 6-foot-11 power forward, said he was forgoing offers from U.C.L.A. and Kentucky to attend Howard University, becoming the highest-ranked player in more than a decade to choose an H.B.C.U. “I want to inspire the youth to be able to lead in whichever way they can. I’m doing it by taking this step,” Maker said in a phone interview. “Hopefully in one or two years from now we’ll see H.B.C.U.s as power schools.”
The following week, Tavyion Land, a standout defensive back for Liberty University, announced he would transfer to Norfolk State so he could be “surrounded by people with similar backgrounds and cultural experiences.” Several other athletes and faculty members also left Liberty recently, criticizing the university’s handling of situations involving race.
“We’ve reached a boiling point. People are truly upset and they’re going to push this further than it’s ever been pushed before,” said Jasmine Gurley, chairperson for HBCU Jump, an organization that among other things helps connect top-tier recruits to H.B.C.U. alumni, including those who made it to the N.B.A. and N.F.L.
“We want to redirect people to communities and institutions that have historically supported us,” Gurley said.
As they reflect on the trauma that has afflicted their community for centuries, Black athletes are increasingly recognizing the value of their star power.
“WE ARE THE REASON THAT THESE SCHOOLS HAVE SUCH BIG NAMES AND SUCH GOOD HISTORY..But in the end what do we get out of it??” Williams wrote on Instagram the day after his viral Twitter message.
Full Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/sports/...
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