Column: Basketball Will be First in HBCU Recruiting Revolution

by Reese Becker

Photo courtesy of Tennessee State athletics

With the recent events in America, there has been a calling for more of the top African-American prospects to “stay home” and commit to HBCUs over other schools.

This is much more likely in basketball as opposed to football. Mikey Williams, the top-rated 2023 hoops prospect, set the college basketball recruiting world on fire this week with one tweet:

Following his tweet, Williams made another statement. 

“I AM RIDING FOR MY PEOPLE!” Williams said. “I’M 10 TOES BEHIND THE BLACK COMMUNITY! Any way I can help or make a change in the black community, best believe I am going to do that.”

After Williams’ original tweet, he got offers from HBCUs Norfolk State, Tennessee State, Texas Southern, and nine others. That includes his mom’s alma mater, Hampton.


In basketball, there is no FBS/FCS divide like in football. On the hardwood, HBCUs can compete with Power 5 schools for a national title. Both the historically black MEAC and SWAC conference champions earn annual automatic bids into the NCAA Tournament.

The Big South Conference, current home to Hampton and future host to North Carolina A&T, is also given an auto-bid for its conference champion.

In 2019, Prairie View and North Carolina Central made the tournament. Both were assigned to the play-in games and neither advanced. The same thing happened when NC Central and Texas Southern played each other in the 2018 tournament, once again, in the play in-game. Texas Southern won that game before being defeated by Xavier in the first round.

In 2017, North Carolina Central again found itself in a play in-game. That year, Texas Southern lost as a 16-seed to North Carolina.


In football, as opposed to basketball, there is no automatic bid into the four-team College Football Playoff. There are also no HBCUs in the FBS.

In the FCS (1-AA) ranks, you have a plethora of teams including Norfolk State, Hampton, Florida A&M, Southern, Alabama State, North Carolina A&T, Alcorn State, Grambling, South Carolina State, Tennessee State, Bethune-Cookman, Morgan State, Mississippi Valley, Delaware State, Howard, NC Central, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

In both of the last two seasons, Jackson State has led the FCS in attendance in 2019 (33,762). That total would have been 64th-best in FBS that season.

In the FCS Tournament, 24 teams get in with 10 automatic bids given to conference champions from 10 different conferences including the Big South. That’s not the case for the MEAC or SWAC.

The last HBCU to win an FCS championship was Florida A&M in 1978. An HBCU has never won the men’s basketball championship.

What’s Next

In the first of what is anticipated to be multiple, high -aliber players switching to HBCU schools, 2020 three-star St. John’s commit Nate Tabor recently committed to Norfolk State. There will be more coming.

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