The Potential Paradigm Shift In College Basketball

It is funny how one tweet can bring on a potential change in the college sports landscape. A change that would be something that would impact not only basketball but how colleges are viewed across the nation.

Mikey Williams, who is arguably the most well-known 15-year-old basketball player in America, tweeted this out on Tuesday.

GOING TO AN HBCU WOULDN'T BE TOO BAD... HS FROSH SENSATION MIKEY ...

The 6-foot 4-inch freshman point guard averaged 29.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game as he led his San Ysidro (San Diego, California) High School team to a 25-9 record this season. He scored 77 points in a game in December.

Little does he know if he decided to attend an Historically Black College and University how much of an impact he would make across the entire sporting landscape.

Within hours, Williams received three offers (Norfolk State, Texas Southern and Tennessee State) and should have a mailbox full of others in the coming days and weeks.

Williams already has offers from Kansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and UCLA already and is getting offers from other Power Five colleges on a weekly basis. So why would one of the most sought-after players in High School Basketball in recent years consider a Historically Black College and University?

 

The Reputation Of HBCU’s

When most people of think of colleges that are part of conferences such as Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAA), one the of the major narratives is that the competition is not the same as other Power Five conferences.

An HBCU has never won a national championship in Division 1 College Basketball. Only four teams have advanced out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 1997 and none of them made the Sweet 16.

The conferences and their members are not on national television on a regular basis. The times they are on is during Championship week or playing in the first four play-in games on the opening Tuesday and Wednesday during the NCAA Tournaments.

Some of the facilities that the teams play in or at are not at the level of the Power Five conference schools or have the exposure of the same schools. When you go to places like North Carolina, Kentucky, or Louisville, you have a chance to play in arenas that hold 18 to 22 thousand people every home game. Or places like Duke, Kansas or Arizona, who have legendary arenas that have historical significance in college basketball.

Some of the on-campus arenas might hold about two thousand people when they are completely packed. You might have not had a chance to practice with NBA level talent every day in practice or play for a major name in the coaching ranks.

But there are so many advantages in some cases for high school stars to play one year of college basketball.

 

So Why Should Williams And Other Top Players Go To An HBCU?

HBCU’s have had three players selected in the NBA Draft since 2002 and have not had a player selected in the Lottery since Carlos Rogers went 11th overall in 1994. Winston Salem State’s Earl Monroe is the highest draft pick ever to come out of an HBCU when he was taken with the second overall pick in the 1967 NBA Draft.

So to have a chance to be the first player to be drafted number one overall would give these players a chance to make history. On top of having the chance to be the first to be able to accomplish that feat, the cultural impact on that would be even greater.

For anyone who has attended an Historically Black College and University (I attended Winston-Salem State), the experience is like none other. The embrace of the athletes by the community is second to none.

Being the big man on campus at North Carolina is one thing because of the history of the program but being that same player at HBCU would make you a legend. You go on any campus and no matter what sport it is, any athlete that made to the professional level are treated on a whole new level.

To be able to have generations telling stories about watching you play and to see the community and alumni faces when they talk about you will be chilling. The stories about Earl Monroe’s and Stephen A. Smith’s (yes, the ESPN personality) games on the basketball court still ring on campus.

Do not worry about level of coaches because there are some elite coaches that coach in these HBCU conferences. LeVelle Morton (North Carolina Central), Mike Davis (Texas Southern) and Robert Jones (Norfolk State) are some of the cream of the crop coaches that are pacing the sidelines at current moment.

There is nothing like education you get an HBCU. Even if a player stays for one season, the professors on these HBCU campuses are second to none. If your plan is to stay one year, the education alone might make you play a second season. You learn life lessons and things from professors that will stick with you throughout the rest of your life.

On top of all those wonderful things, there  is nothing in America like a homecoming at an HBCU. No offense to other colleges and universities but HBCU homecomings are a spectacle of fun, excitement, family and a cultural smorgasbord of things that no other campus can replicate. Sorry UCLA but your homecoming is nothing like Grambling, Howard, Florida A&M or North Carolina A&T.

Lastly, HBCU’s are like family. Which is important for players who are new to being away on their own. Being around people your age, teammates and people with similar experiences will provide you with the same types of comfort that you would have if you were at home.

 

How Much Of An Impact Would Player Like Williams Make?

Well, when you have over two million followers on Instagram, over 37,000 followers on Twitter and the Overtime media company giving a platform for all other things, you have quite a following. When you have NBA legends, hall of  famers and hip-hop musicians attending your games and taking pictures with you at 15 years old, you have must have a special talent.

The same way people will like, comment, share and subscribe to all your social media platforms, the major television networks will follow you as well. When players have a talent like Williams, ESPN, Fox and others will find ways to get you on television.

Don’t worry about the small gyms and on-campus arenas that some schools have because in most cases there is a way larger arena or facility that would not mind hosting home games for whatever school that you decide to attend. Instead of the university having tickets sold for 1,000 people, they could sell 13,000 for 12 or 13 home games. That would give the university so much more flexibility to do other things and help other programs.

You would be able to inspire the next group high school athletes to look at these same types of schools and follow in the path that you helped to elevate and create.

It will take more than one elite basketball player to make change but it takes one to start the change and movement. Is Mikey Williams willing to be the one to control his own narrative?

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