Five-star high school basketball recruit Makur Maker recently announced where he plans on playing collegiate ball following his time at high school. His decision shocked the entirety of the basketball world.
When it came time to make his decision, Maker had his pick of the country’s most elite college programs, including UCLA, Kentucky and Memphis. However, instead of choosing to play for a bluechip program, Maker instead decided to take his talents to Howard University, a historically black college/university (HBCU), making Maker the first major prospect to commit to a HBCU in more than forty years.
“The reason behind my decision? I dare to be different, and I always consider myself to be a leader,” Maker explained to The Undefeated. “I want to change the current culture and climate that has kept five-star athletes like myself from viewing HBCUs as a viable choice. I have no idea why it’s been over 40 years that not even one five-star basketball player in the United States has decided to play basketball at an HBCU. But I do know that, in this Black Lives Matter movement that’s empowered and assembled many different people across the country and the world, that it won’t be another 40 years until it happens again.”
Maker’s decision has already begun to create ripples in the high school sports community. Korey Foreman, the number one high school football recruit from the class of 2021, announced his seven finalists for his commitment plans, and included Howard among the likes of Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Georgia.
Maker also made sure to specifically mention Mikey Williams, the number one rated basketball player from the class of 2023, noting that he hopes his decision, ” inspire[s] guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey.” After Maker announced his official decision, Williams responded by saying “I’m all for it.”
Plenty of analysts and former athletes are questioning the legitimacy of the HBCU movement, and believe it will only succeed in the long term if prospects like Williams, who already has a much greater following than the older Maker, take the same route, and therefore influence an even greater number of future black athletes.
However, there is no denying the importance of Maker’s decision to be the first major recruit to officially commit to an HBCU. In a year that has been marked by major social unrest, Maker’s decision carries even more weight now than it would have even just a year ago. Maker recently spoke with ESPN Daily, and mentioned that the tragic murder of George Floyd was “probably the knock on the nose that made me do this.”
There are still questions regarding the impact Maker will have on Howard’s basketball program, a program that won just four games last season and hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament in almost thirty years. The coronavirus pandemic is still causing a massive question mark to loom over the fate of all sports, and uncertainty seems to be the only constant regarding the return of sports. But if Maker can demonstrate that playing for an HBCU is just as viable an option to reach the NBA as playing for an elite program, then perhaps HBCU’s will become a legitimate option for the nation’s top black recruits.