More skilled basketball recruits are beginning to choose historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) over Division I schools.
According to the American Council on Education, HBCUs have historically received an inadequate amount of funding from federal and state governments. It’s likely many talented athletes choose to attend Division I schools due to the higher funding they receive.
But the culture of an HBCU is what makes it worth it.
Enter Makur Maker. Maker passed up the opportunity to attend the University of Kentucky, University of Memphis and UCLA, among others, to attend Howard University, a popular HBCU, this fall.
Standing 7-feet with the ability to run the court like a guard, Maker is one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the country. He is a five-star recruit with offers from all of the top schools in the country.
He is the first five-star recruit to commit to attending an HBCU since ESPN started ranking prospects in 2007.
“I need to make the HBCU movement real, so that others will follow,” Maker wrote on Twitter on Friday, July 3.
Maker has been vocal about the ability of athletes to extend their influence beyond sports and has cited the work of LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick as athletes he looks up to most. The more he learned about Howard, the more he became impressed with the institution as a whole.
“I think we’re starting a different culture with top recruits coming in to visit here and taking this seriously,” Maker told The Undefeated before scrimmaging with the Howard basketball team. “A lot of HBCUs are being overlooked.”
Maker will enter his freshmen year that will be entirely different because of the global coronavirus pandemic. The Black Lives Matter movement and the killing of George Floyd has also impacted the mindset of many young African-Americans.
These events have opened the eyes of some of the highest-level recruits. One of the top three freshmen in the country, Mikey Williams, has expressed interest in attending an HBCU on Twitter. Williams’ mother attended Hampton, another popular HBCU. It’s looking like Williams might attend an HBCU and continue the trend Maker has started.
In Maker’s announcement, he specifically mentioned Williams.
“I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey,” Maker said in the tweet.
Williams replied to an Instagram post about Maker’s commitment to Howard saying, “I’m all for it,” reassuring his interest in attending an HBCU like Howard.
Talented players like Williams and Maker could re-establish a consistent pipeline of elite basketball recruits taking the HBCU route as opposed to the traditional Duke University, University of Kentucky, University of Kansas or other Division I schools with much funding.
Only time will tell if more five-star recruits take their talents to HBCUs in the future.