Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were institutions established to give African Americans an opportunity to gain an opportunity at an education when white institutions would not accept them. The first HBCU Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, formerly known as the African Institute and Institute of Colored Youth, was opened in 1837. Lincoln University, established in 1854, became the first degree granting HBCU under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was not until 1912 that HBCUs began running intercollegiate sports when the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was established. Along with the CIAA, there are now four collegiate athletic conferences with all or majority HBCU teams: Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC).
HBCUs have received great attention over the past year with high profile athletes and recruits giving their support to the institutions. Stories such as Deion Sanders becoming the head coach of the Jackson State Tigers football team, Peyton Manning contributing scholarships to six HBCUs and five-star basketball recruit Makur Maker committing to Howard University have seen a surge of support for historically black colleges. With that in mind, we wanted to keep that support coming in this scenario where we send some of the NBA’s greatest high school draftees to HBCUs. NBA players drafted out of high school have gone on to become All-Star caliber players or even Hall of Fame worthy players. I do sometimes wonder how good LeBron, Kobe, KG and other prep to pro players would have been if they went to college. More than that, however, I wonder what kind of impact those guys would have made had they attended HBCUs. The list of former/current NBA players that attended HBCUs may be a short one but it is an impressive one.
That list consists of players such as 10x NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics Sam Jones who attended North Carolina Central University, two-time NBA Finals MVP and former league MVP with the New York Knicks Willis Reed out of Grambling State University, former four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Champion with the Detroit Pistons Ben Wallace from Virginia Union University, two-time NBA Champion with the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Bullets (now Wizards) respectively Bob Dandridge out of Norfolk State University, and four-time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion with the New York Knicks Earl “The Pearl” Monroe from Winston-Salem State University just to name a few. The only two active NBA players that have attended HBCUs are center Kyle O’Quinn who attended Norfolk State University currently playing for the Philadelphia 76ers and Robert Covington who attended Tennessee State University and currently plays for the Houston Rockets.
In this scenario, we will take a look at some of the notable NBA players that decided to forgo playing college basketball entering the NBA Draft straight out of high school and assign them to an HBCU. Each player’s respective HBCU will either be based on the state they were born, where they went to high school or colleges they were planning on attending. Before we get started, however, Without further ado, let’s give HBCUs some love!
- Kwame Brown
We start off with a man who would have definitely benefited from a year (or four) in college the 2001 NBA Draft’s number one overall pick Kwame Brown. Kwame Brown played high school ball at Glynn Academy in Georgia where showed promise averaging 20.1 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.8 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals per game in his senior season. He was ranked second on ESPN’s top 100 high school senior recruit rankings ahead of fellow prep to pro players Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. There is plenty of options for which HBCU to send Kwame Brown as he was born in South Carolina, he played high school basketball in Georgia and committed to the University of Florida. There are tons of options but ultimately, Kwame Brown will stay in Georgia playing for one of the three original members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
Kwame Brown’s HBCU: Albany State University
2. Kobe Bryant
Next, we have one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen a true legend and Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant. In his senior season, Kobe Bryant led Lower Merion to a 31-3 record averaging 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4 steals, and 3.8 blocks while also winning the school’s first state championship in over 50 years. He was named Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year while also being selected as a first-team Parade All-American and a USA Today All-USA First Team player. I think its safe to say that any college Kobe would have attended would have been so why not make it an HBCU am I right? It was reported that Kobe would have attended Duke University in Durham, North Carolina as a way to oppose Michael Jordan who attended the University of North Carolina another school in Durham. So, why not keep him in Durham attending the school that was home to Hall of Fame NBA head coach Al Attles.
Kobe Bryant’s HBCU: North Carolina A&T State University
3. Kevin Garnett
Another all-time great, Kevin Garnett would have definitely brought prestige, toughness and top notch competitiveness to any college he would have attended. After spending his first three years at Mauldin High School in South Carolina, Garnett transferred to Farragut Academy in Chicago after getting into legal trouble in the summer before his senior season. At Farragut Academy, KG led his team to a 28-2 record while averaging 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks. He was named National High School Player of the Year by USA Today, Illinois Mr. Basketball, Mr. Basketball USA and was named to the First Team Parade All-American team. He was also named the MVP of the McDonalds All-American Game after posting 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in a game that also featured future NBA stars Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury and Ron Mercer. Since KG committed to the University of Maryland, why have him attend a college in the state of Maryland playing in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
Kevin Garnett’s HBCU: University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
4. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard’s journey to the NBA began at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. He won the state championship in his senior season after leading his team to a 31-2 record averaging 25 points, 18 rebounds, 8.1 blocks and 3.5 assists per game. In his high school career, Howard averaged 16.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.3 blocks per game winning Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Georgia Mr. Basketball, and First Team Parade All-American (all in his senior season) while also winning co-MVP of the McDonalds All-American game. Interestingly enough, Dwight Howard’s mom attended Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia where she was a member of the school’s first women’s basketball team. However, since Morris Brown was already unaccredited for a year in a half by the time he finished high school, Dwight will attend the same school as Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe.
Dwight Howard’s HBCU: Savannah State University
5. LeBron James
Of all the players on this list, no one received more hype coming into the NBA straight out of high school than the reigning NBA Finals MVP. James’ high school career at St. Vincent St. Mary saw him win the Ohio Mr. Basketball award three times, Mr. Basketball USA twice, Gatorade Player of the Year twice, First Team Parade All-American twice, Naismith Prep Player of the Year and MVP of the McDonalds All-American Game while also leading his team to three state championships. He was so popular that not only did he grace the cover of Slam Magazine in his junior year (the only high school player to do it as an underclassmen), but Time Warner Cable broadcasted his games on pay-per-view in his senior season. LeBron puts on for the state of Ohio to the fullest so why not have him attend the HBCU that is home to the last HBCU alum to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
Lebron James’ HBCU: Central State University
6. Moses Malone
Even though Moses Malone technically went to the ABA, rather than the NBA, straight out of high school, it’s only right he be part of this discussion because he was that great. Moses Malone attended Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia where he led his team to two straight undefeated seasons as well as Virginia State Championships. Moses won the Mr. Basketball USA award in his senior season. Like Kevin Garnett, Moses Malone also committed to the University of Maryland. However, instead of attending a Maryland HBCU, Moses will remain in his home state of Virginia attending the same HBCU as fellow great NBA bigs Ben Wallace and Charles Oakley.
Moses Malone’s HBCU: Virginia Union University
7. Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady began his high school career at Aburndale High School in Florida where he played for three years. He put himself on the map after his junior season when he averaged 23.1 points and 12.2 rebounds, four assists and 4.9 blocks. That combined with his performance in the now defunct ABCD Camp allowed his to raise his stock among all the high school players in the nation. For his final high school season, McGrady transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina. In his senior season, he averaged 27.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 2.8 steals and two blocks. He was named Mr. Basketball USA, First-team Parade All-American and appeared in the McDonalds All-American game. Seeing as Tracy attended high school in both Florida and North Carolina, both states notorious for HBCUs, there are a number of great colleges to choose from. Ultimately, I chose to send him to Florida to play for a school that is making a blockbuster move from the MEAC to the SWAC following this season.
Tracy McGrady’s HBCU: Bethune Cookman University
8. Kendrick Perkins
For a player that went on to have a fairly below average NBA career, Kendrick Perkins was very dominant in high school. He attended Clifton J. Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas where he led his team to four district championships and a state championship. He was selected as a Second-team Parade All-American in his junior season. In his senior season, Kendrick averaged 27.5 points, 16.4 rebounds and 7.8 blocks and his team finished with a 33-1 record. He was named Texas Mr. Basketball, First-team Parade All-American and a McDonalds All-American. Coming out of high school, he was a five-star recruit and the sixth best player in the nation. Although Kendrick Perkins committed to the University of Memphis, it’s best he stay in Texas playing in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).
Kendrick Perkins’ HBCU: Texas Southern University
9. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire is the only player on this list that played for three different high schools. He started off at Lake Wales High School in Florida, transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina and ended his high school career in Orlando, Florida in Cypress Creek High School. In his senior year, Stoudemire averaged 29.1 points, 15 rebounds, 6.1 blocked shots, and 2.1 steals. He was named Florida Mr. Basketball, was named to the McDonalds All-American game and First-team Parade All-American. Like Kendrick Perkins, Stoudemire was also a five-star recruit that committed to the University of Memphis. Unlike Perkins, however, Amar’e will remain in the state of Tennessee home of Robert Covington one of only two players active in the NBA today.
Amar’e Stoudemire’s HBCU: Tennessee State University
10. Lou Williams
Last but not least, we have three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams a.k.a Lemon Pepper Lou. Lou Williams attended South Gwinnett High School in Georgia where he was named All-State all four years of his high school career. In his senior season, Williams won the Mr. Georgia Basketball award and was named to the First-team Parade All-American team. He played in the 2005 McDonalds All-American game that featured fellow prep to pro players Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis, Gerald Green and Amir Johnson. Since Lou Williams is a product of the state of Georgia and he committed to play for the University of Georgia, it’s only right he play his college ball in Georgia for a school that also wears red and black but instead plays in the SIAC. In fact, like Kwame Brown, he will also attend a school that was an original member of the SIAC conference.
Lou Williams’ HBCU: Clark Atlanta University