• Peter Burtnett

Why recruits choosing HBCUs is great for college basketball

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The recent commitment by class of 2020 five-star center Makur Maker to Howard University is likely to be the first of many as the best high school basketball recruits begin to make the jump to HBCUs, which could make college basketball even more exciting.

As the world begins to wake to the injustices and racism directed towards the black community, a part of that is the atmosphere that surrounds a black athlete playing for a school that gives them a scholarship and says that that's enough. Bringing awareness and recognition to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) is part of the reason for what could be a generational shift, but another is the "slave master" mentality that infects some college programs.

While the athlete works their college years away for a coach and athletic program, the coach (and program) profits immensely, making millions of dollars per year at big programs like Duke or Kentucky, while the athlete gets a scholarship but no chance to profit from their abilities that brings in the millions of dollars worth of revenue.

The issue of pay-for-play is for another time, but the long-standing tradition that the best recruits chose schools like North Carolina or Arizona could be over.

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to raise more awareness towards the injustices that African-Americans face, that same awareness is being brought to HBCUs.

When Makur Maker made his commitment, he tweeted his message as one to inspire fellow recruits to join him in committing to HBCUs.

"I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other started to dream 'what if,'" Maker tweeted. "I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney #MakerMob."

The recruit Maker referenced, 2023 point guard Mikey Williams, has already garnered a lot of national attention and holds offers from big schools Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon (among others), and HBCUs North Carolina Central (2019-20 MEAC regular season champions), Howard and Texas Southern, which consistently plays a notoriously tough non-conference schedule.

When (not if) the best recruits choose HBCUs over traditional college basketball powerhouses, it will create an exciting new level of competition. While college basketball has had seven different champions the last eight years, the disparity at the top of the game has been limited.

However, with an introduction of the best recruits at HBCUs, the amount of teams in competition for winning titles will be widened, which creates an exciting outlook, where more teams are in the running to win championships.

March Madness has already been made popular by the idea that any team can win it, as 11 seeds have made it as far as the Final Four several times. With the addition of highly-rated recruits to schools like Howard or NC Central, the gap between the traditional powerhouses and the "lesser" teams will be reduced, if not bridged.

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