Five-Star Recruit Makur Maker Commits to Howard, 'Makes the HBCU Movement Real'

Illustration for article titled Five-Star Recruit Makur Maker Commits to Howard, Makes the HBCU Movement Real
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Real estate is cool, but if you want to make some real paper, you might want to look into college sports—provided you’re not a Black student-athlete.

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As I’ve reported here at The Root, the NCAA is big business for everybody but Black players, generating over a billion dollars in annual revenue—most of which comes from Division I men’s hoops—since 2016. Some of these players, like Jalen Green or Darius Bazley, have gotten hip to the bullshit and have opted to play overseas or in the G League instead of playing for free.99 at a perennial powerhouse like Duke. Then there are five-star recruits like Makur Maker, who realize that there’s a direct correlation between the financial struggles of HBCUs and their inability to recruit big-name student-athletes that would easily generate the type of revenue that would keep their schools afloat.

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There’s also a level of personal enrichment that you can only experience at an HBCU, which is why Maker will forgo offers from Kentucky, UCLA and others in order to commit to Howard University.

“I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other[s] started to dream ‘what if’,” he tweeted. “I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow.”

The importance of Maker opting to attend an HBCU cannot be understated. Black athletes wield tremendous power and influence, more so than ever before, and considering the crucial role that HBCUs play in the “creation and propagation” of the Black professional class, imagine how much stronger our community would be if HBCUs had the same funding and resources as their PWI counterparts.

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From Jemele Hill of The Atlantic:

Despite constituting only 3 percent of four-year colleges in the country, HBCUs have produced 80 percent of the black judges, 50 percent of the black lawyers, 50 percent of the black doctors, 40 percent of the black engineers, 40 percent of the black members of Congress, and 13 percent of the black CEOs in America today. (They have also produced this election cycle’s only black female candidate for the U.S. presidency: Kamala Harris is a 1986 graduate of Howard University.)

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Suffice to say, Maker making this move is kind of a big deal. It could signal a seismic shift in not only the collegiate sports landscape but could also serve as a precursor to eventually closing the racial wealth gap.

Yes, it’s that serious.

“Silent protest, pull your kids out of these D1 schools and enroll them in a HBCU,” former NBA All-Star Mo Williams tweeted. “We talking about change. Don’t talk about it, be about it.”

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Williams was recently named head coach at Alabama State.

Maker intends to explain his decision later this week on ESPN’s First Take, but in the interim, hopes that he’s inspired other Black student-athletes to join him in making the same move—and one player who’s all ears is fellow five-star recruit, Mikey Williams.

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Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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DISCUSSION

I first saw this on Saturday, and was so happy that Maker made this choice. The only power that people not in the existing power structure have is through collective action. If athletes of color start choosing HBCUs en mass, particularly in the “one and done” era, the effect is going to be phenomenal. You only need to look at the dismissing of this move by the sports-industrial establishment that took place over the weekend to see how much of a difference this would make. (Side note: Ric Blucher can fuck right off).

Technology has eliminated many of the arguments about “exposure” that were a major impediment to athletes like Maker who wanted to go to the NBA. Now, every dunk he makes for the Bison is going to be all over YouTube 15 seconds after it happens. God willing, this is only the start, and I CANNOT WAIT to see little white kids in Iowa wearing Howard t-shirts.