Monday, January 18, 2021

Big time recruit Makur Maker makes statement with Howard University Basketball.

July 7, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( One of the top academic universities in America is Howard University. The historically Black  university in Washington, D.C., boasts an impressive alumni list including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Opera singer Jessye Norman, and actress Taraji P. Henson. Currently, Howard University can also boast about being the best producer of Black applicants to U.S. medical schools, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Last week, Howard has also made waves in sports after five-star senior Makur Maker announced his commitment to Howard to play men’s college basketball for the 2020-21 men’s college basketball season. This news is both surprising and not given the temperature of America over the past few months but this is still noteworthy news.

Makur Maker chose the Howard Bison over UCLA, a historical college basketball blueblood that has struggled in recent years. He also chose Howard over Kentucky, which has been one of the best college basketball programs and producers of NBA talent over the past decade. Maker wrote on Twitter, “I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other started to dream “what if”. 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”. This is a decision that does have some history to it as Makur Maker is the highest-ranked college basketball prospect to commit to a historically Black college or university since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007.

On a larger scale, this decision by Makur Maker looks like the aftereffects of the societal change brought on by the deaths of unarmed Black women and men due to police brutality. Discussions on Blackness, race, and Black pride are as prevalent now as they have been in a long time. Division I Men’s college basketball is among the most popular spectator sports in America and it is also a majority Black sport as African-Americans comprised of 53.2 percent of Division men’s basketball players in 2018-2019. Virtually every men’s college basketball player would like to play in the NBA and that is especially the case for high level high school players like Makur Maker.

There is a large pool of young Black high school basketball talent every year and they mostly choose PWIs, predominantly white institutions, due to the recent history of producing NBA talent and having more financial resources than most HBCU basketball programs. Maker’s decision does place some pressure on him to perform because their will be questions about the level of competition that he will play as a Howard Bison by NBA scouts.

His future head coach at Howard, Kenny Blakeney, also understands what’s at stake with a big time basketball recruit coming in to a HBCU but smaller athletic program at Howard and said, “Wherever a five-star lands, we can’t mess it up. If we mess it up, we may not have another opportunity to be able to do it.”  But it is also noteworthy that a NBA All-Star like Damian Lillard has succeeded as a NBA high first round pick from a small school though not a HBCU. Current Houston Rocket Robert Covington has carved out a NBA career to be proud of as a former HBCU alum of Tennessee State who went undrafted. If there is a 2020-21 men’s college basketball season, be on the lookout for Makur Maker at Howard.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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