High school basketball phenom Makur Maker made history last weekend when he announced on his Twitter account that he was planning to attend Howard University.
Maker’s announcement sent shockwaves through the college basketball recruiting scene as he chose Howard over the likes of perennial national programs such as UCLA. A versatile 6’11” forward from Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, Maker is the No. 16 players in ESPN’s latest prep rankings in the Class of 2020. To date, he becomes the highest rated player to commit to a Historically Black College and University program.
Maker’s commitment was a tremendous coup for Howard head coach Kenny Blakeney and an even more important win for the HBCU’s. Top high school football and basketball players have discussed openly the prospect of attending an HBCU in recent weeks. For a high profile player such as Maker to step forward and commit to Howard was an even bigger statement; with the possibility of more to follow. That is what Maker is hoping with his announcement.
Said Maker in his Twitter announcement: “I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope to inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney.”
Mikey Williams is a tremendously talented guard from San Diego who is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2023. His list of collegiate suitors is long with schools such as Kansas, UCLA, Arizona and many others. The 6’2” Williams also broached the topic of going to an HBCU school a month ago when he put out a tweet “Going to an HBCU wouldn’t be too bad.”
After putting out his message on Twitter, Williams received more than a dozen new scholarship offers from HBCU schools, including Howard, Morehouse, North Carolina Central, Alabama State and Alabama State. Williams’ mother attended Hampton and he credits her for putting the idea in his head about considering HBCU and Williams has been very vocal on his social media accounts about the possibility. With Maker taking the biggest step and Williams looking at the idea, it will be interesting to see if a group of highly touted prospects decide to make the jump together. Now, that would be something.
There was a time when some of the best players in the National Basketball Association were products for HBCU programs. I grew up watching many of these great players who enjoyed All-Pro and Hall of Fame careers.
In the spirit of my St. Louis American “Fab Five” All-Star Basketball Teams that we publish at the end of the season, here is my all-time HBCU Fab Five Basketball Team.
Guard: Earl Monroe (Winston Salem State) – In 1967, “Earl the Pearl” or “Black Jesus” averaged 41.9 points a game in leading Winston-Salem State to the NCAA College Division national championship. He played with the Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks during his stellar career. He helped lead the Knicks to the NBA championship in 1973. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. His flashy style and spin moves are legendary.
Guard: Sam Jones (North Carolina Central) – The 6’4” Jones was a collegiate All-American at North Carolina Central. He played his entire NBA career with the Boston Celtics, where he was a big part of one of the biggest dynasties in professional sports history. The author of the bank shot, Jones was a five-time all-star and a stalwart on 10 world championship teams. He is also in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Center: Willis Reed (Grambling State) – The 6’10” was a tremendous player at Grambling before embarking on a Hall of Fame pro career with the New York Knicks from 1964-74. He led the Knicks to world championships in 1970 and 1973 and was the MVP of both Finals series. He is a Hall of Famer who was selected as one of the top 50 players in the history of the NBA.
Forward: Bobby Dandridge (Norfolk State) – After an All-American career at Norfolk State, “Bobby D” enjoyed a stellar NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Bullets. He was instrumental in the Bucks world title in 1971 and the Bullets’ championship in 1978, which is the only championship in the history of both franchises. He averaged 18 points a game in his career, but 20 points a game in his playoff career.
Forward: Ben Wallace (Virginia Union) – A star player at Virginia Union, the 6’8” Wallace enjoyed a stellar career as one of the NBA’s best ever defensive players. His best years were with the Detroit Pistons, where he helped them to a world title in 2004. He won the Defensive Player of the Year award a record four times while also being a two-time league rebounding champion and a five-time All-Star.
To all of the young ballers out there who aspire to play at the highest level: If you are good enough, the pros will find you.