Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been making headlines recently. Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman recently announced conference membership changes. However, the biggest news was 2023 top recruit Mikey Williams announcing he would be interested in playing for an HBCU last month. Now, a top recruit has chosen this path. Makur Maker, ESPN’s 16th rated recruit in the class of 2020, has committed to the Howard Bison.
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
— Makur Maker (@MakurMaker) July 3, 2020
Makur Maker Chooses Howard Bison
This decision was important to Maker. His tweet shows that he wants to be the first to open the door for other top prospects to choose HBCUs. Maker chose Howard over UCLA, Kentucky, and Memphis. He visited Howard in the fall and has ultimately decided that is where he wants to play.
Maker expects to be a one-and-done player, but he can still make a huge impact in one year for a program like Howard. Bear in mind that his name is still in the 2020 NBA Draft, though he is expected to remove it. Meanwhile, Maker becomes the highest-ranked recruit to commit to an HBCU since ESPN began their tracking system in 2007.
Impact on Howard Bison
Coach Kenneth Blakeney just finished his first season at the helm at Howard. The Bison finished 4-29, losing to a non-Division I program along the way. Howard has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1992 and just finished its 11th season with single-digit wins since 2000. Maker’s commitment is program-altering. He should come in and immediately be a spark to the Bison on both ends of the floor.
However, something else that will be important is the coaching staff’s ability to help him continue to improve in the eye of NBA scouts. The biggest thing that draws one-and-done players to high profile schools is their ability to get them pro-ready. If Blakeney and his staff show that you do not need to attend a Kentucky or Duke to do that, then the pendulum will start to shift. Regardless, the Bison should immediately shoot to the top of the list of contenders in the MEAC for the upcoming season.
Impact on HBCUs
Maker’s decision makes him the first five-star recruit to commit to an HBCU in a long time. He is hoping to start a trend that has already started to spread to top recruits in upcoming classes. The most notable is 2023 top recruit Mikey Williams, who has half of his offers from HBCU programs. More recruits may voice their openness to playing for these programs due to the decisions of Makur Maker and Williams.
The recent social movements in the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May have made Black athletes realize the power that they have. Power programs Kansas State and Oklahoma State have seen this. Athletes at these schools pledged not to play this season if racist incidents were not addressed. For recruits like Maker and Williams, they are realizing that they can make an impact by choosing HBCUs over power schools that may not respect them beyond their athletic abilities. Maker’s decision is the one that could open the floodgates for more Historically Black Colleges and Universities to land top-tier recruits in the future, and not just in basketball.