Imagine if I told you five years ago that a top athletic prospect would commit to an HBCU. Hell not even five years ago. If I told you that at this time last year, you would be looking at me as if I was crazy. What was once known as crazy to society has just become a new reality. With everything this nation has faced these past couple of months, it has helped many young athletes realize that they need to use their platform for change and be in control of their own destiny.
Makur Maker, a six foot eleven inch center from Hillcrest Prep high school and cousin of Detroit Pistons center Thon Maker, had publicly announced on his twitter that he would be committing to Howard University over college basketball division-1 powerhouses such as Kentucky, UCLA, and Memphis.
Howard University is an HBCU, an acronym for Historic Black Colleges and Universities. You may be wondering, “Well how is this so revolutionary? What impact can one kid make?” The answer is he can make a historical impact. HBCUs have always had a shadow cast upon them and aren’t as heavily funded or looked at like more popular universities.
Low funding leads to low graduation rates, which has been associated with HBCUs due to the fact that they have a 35 percent graduation rate (via Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund). Low funding doesn’t offer the students who attend HBCUs the same resources or opportunities as students who attend other non-HBCU universities.
However, with Maker’s decision, all of that can change. Maker will draw intense media coverage and scouts to come see him play because he is a marquee athlete. The number 17 prospect in the nation according to 247sports.com is the highest ranked prospect to commit to an HBCU since the database was formed. While Maker attracts the attention of multiple NBA scouts, it also gives other HBCU athletes more exposure and more opportunities to go pro than they would’ve had before.
This gives HBCU students the opportunity to make the most out of going to an HBCU and benefiting because of it. Another major impact from Maker’s decision is the influence he can have on future college athletes. In his tweet, he mentioned a very specific player, Mikey Williams, who he hopes to inspire going to an HBCU.
Mikey Williams, who I believe has the potential to be a generational talent and is the best player in the 2023 high school basketball class, has been very vocal about his interest in attending an HBCU. He Tweeted on July 2nd “About to make folks mad with this!!” with the hashtag HBCU and has repeatedly shown his undying support for Maker’s commitment. He even thanked him in a tweet of his.
Paving the pathway for younger athletes is extremely crucial for the growth of HBCUs implementation into the collegiate athletics spotlight because:
- The more number of higher tier athletes that attend an HBCU will result in more revenue for each of those schools and HBCUs as a whole whether that be through ticket sales, increased scouting, TV contracts, etc.
- The NCAA will have their hand forced into giving HBCUs more priority than they have in the past and with more and more of their athletes committing to HBCUs over traditional division one colleges, they will be forced into devoting more funding and resources into the HBCU athletic movement to avoid losing revenue and marketability and for the simple fact of saving their brand.
- With more and more young black athletes being inspired by other black athletes who are choosing to attend HBCUs over traditional D1 sports schools, it sends the narrative that they are in full control of their future decisions and have other alternatives than to give in to the NCAA system that hasn’t changed their ways of overlooking HBCUs in years.
The big schools require the big name athletes to attend their universities, and not the other way around. More and more athletes are starting to realize that their simple existence has so much power in terms of controlling the narrative to their benefit and what they believe in.
In an instagram post, Mikey Williams backed up my previous statement by stating, “We write our own stories..we determine what the next page in life is going to be..why does it always have to be the big universities? Why does it always have to be the big names? Have you ever thought about helping your own people out?? 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 also added a statement claiming that “If you’re a pro..than you’re a pro no matter what college you go to..even if you don’t go to college.” He is essentially conveying that black athletes have basically built these prestigious athletic programs at big name universities and that instead of conforming to the same corrupt system, they have new alternatives. These alternatives bring them the same benefits and so much more.
For example, last year when New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson attended Duke University, the prices for UNC basketball game tickets were an average of $70 when they didn’t play Duke. However, when they played Duke, prices skyrocketed to a whopping average of $991, which was primarily due to Williamson’s box office appeal. The colleges, universities, and the NCAA organization benefited tremendously off of Williamson’s brand, while Williamson received nothing in return.
Although highly recruited black athletes will play under the same rules attending an HBCU vs a big name school, there is extra motivation because they will have a chance to tremendously benefit the community they come from and other black students while receiving the exact same exposure they would’ve received at a big name school.
Makur Maker’s commitment might seem small in the grand scheme of things right now especially if you look at it as just one individual committing to a college. But the ripple effects of how this can change college sports forever is why this commitment is so revolutionary.
If you have any follow up questions or thoughts to this article regarding scouting profile for athletes such as Maker and Williams, additional questions about HBCUs collegiate athletic history, or anything in the sports world, make sure to follow both my Instagram (@sportsworlddebates) and Twitter (@SWDTweets1) and contact me via either platform and I will get back to you with the information you desire.
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