Morgan State and HBCUs Will Make Big Appearance On NBA All-Star Stage With Game, Event – CBS Baltimore

CLEVELAND (AP) – This year’s NBA All-Star stage isn’t just for LeBron James, Steph Curry, and other top performers in the league.

There’s another game in town, one that can make a much more lasting impact.

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As the best of basketball gather in Cleveland to dance, 3-pointer and hobnob with corporate partners as the league celebrates its 75th anniversary this weekend, another set of players will have a chance to shine. shining among the twinkling stars.

Morgan State will play Howard on Saturday in the inaugural NBA HBCU Classic, a game that will bring massive exposure — and funding — to historically Black colleges and universities while expanding commitment. long-term league with HBCU, a nationwide network of 107 schools.

“I’m happy about it,” said Chris Paul, a defender of the Phoenix Suns, a 12-time All-Star and former president of the NBA Players Association. “It was a great stage for them. That is its education. A lot of people don’t understand the importance of HBCUs and why they were formed. To continue to elevate them and give them a stage and a platform is very important. ”

Paul played a key role in expanding the union’s relationship with the HBCUs, a 35-year partnership with former Commissioner David Stern who was a founding board member for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund .

The HBCU experience was held at last year’s All-Star Weekend in Atlanta, where marching bands blew players on the floor, team steps performed and the tournament used NBA referees who attended HBCU.

In total, the federation and NBPA donated $3 million to the HBCU community for academic scholarships, advancement initiatives, and other programs last year. Those funds are expected to grow in 2022 with TNT and ESPN broadcasting Saturday’s game from the Cleveland State campus.

And while ample funding is essential, the All-Star stage also provides an opportunity for organizations to promote their history while serving as a recruiting tool – for academics and Athletics.

Attracting reputable players has been a challenge for decades at HBCUs. They rarely appear on national television, often feature one or two teams in the NCAA Tournament and rarely make it past the first round.

It’s a tough buy for a coach who may be trying to convince blue-chip athletes to compete in front of fewer than 1,000 fans while Power 5 schools can promise. Sold out tickets, foreign trips and modern facilities.

That’s why the NBA’s All-Star invite is so important.

“They’re like the big brother, and we’re the little brother,” said Morgan State coach Kevin Broadus. “They’re taking us in and showing the kids you can do it from anywhere in the world.”

HBCU players have made it to the world’s best in the past with Charles Oakley, Avery Johnson, Rick Mahon and Ben Wallace being the most notable. Robert Covington (Tennessee State), who traded last week from Portland to the Clippers, is the only HBCU alum currently in the league.

But Broadus, who has played at Grambling and Bowie State, believes the All-Star rollout could lead the HBCU pipeline to the NBA.

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“There’s a lot of players who’ve played in the HBCUs before that have made it into the NBA and the league is helping to open that eye up and give people hope that they get the chance to play at that level,” Broadus said. “They’re saying, ‘We’re going to bring you to our stage and show you all about it,’ and hopefully some of them will have the looks.

“Like I always tell these guys, you can play anywhere in the country and someone will find you. Their job is to find good players.”

Along with the potential to attract the attention of NBA scouts, Morgan State and Howard’s participation in the All-Star festivals will help high school athletes who may not have HBCUs on their radars watch shows. their.

Broadus knows the drill. As a Binghamton coach and an assistant at Georgetown and Maryland, he understands what recruiting talent is like compared to the wilds of the game.

But just as Howard landed on the heels of the signing of Makur Maker (he spent a year at the school and is now playing professionally in Australia) a few years ago, an elite player could raise the school’s profile.

“You just need one of the famous players to like you,” says Broadus. “You don’t need all 100 – just one. We’re just looking for the next really good player to take our program to the next level. ”

It won’t just be the loop for student athletes from Morgan State and Howard during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

In addition to meeting with past and current players, there will be workshops with league executives and others in the industry to network and discuss mentoring opportunities.

“We hire lawyers. We hire technology leaders. We hire advertising. We hire media professionals,” said Greg Taylor, executive director of the NBA Foundation. “So the off-court education and career development program is meant to let student-athletes know what it takes to get one of those jobs or careers.”

This summer, the federation will also launch the HBCU Scholarship Program, a 10-week internship for undergraduates and recent graduates.

While those initiatives are noble, Taylor says the investment of stars like Paul and Curry, who have committed to sponsor Howard’s golf programs for six years, is instrumental. to preserve HBCU’s legacy and secure their future.

“I think 20 percent of college graduates every year come from HBCUs while they make up only 3 percent of colleges and universities in the country,” says Taylor. “It’s a hugely important pipeline and for players to rely on and share their celebrity and knowledge and visibility to shine a light on these organizations is what it all boils down to. next.”

AP Sports writer David Brandt in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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Dustin Huang

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