Weeks ago, elite 2023 recruit Mikey Williams floated the idea of attending an HBCU. He was beaten to the punch by another blue-chip prospect, five-star 2020 center Makur Maker.
Maker was the best available player in the 2020 class this morning. A day after the surprise inclusion of Washington, D.C. HBCU Howard in his top four, alongside Kentucky, Memphis, and UCLA, Maker committed to the Bison. He is the first blue-chip player in school history. This could be a truly historic moment in college basketball recruiting.
In his announcement, Maker specifically mentioned Williams. “I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow,” he said. “I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey.”
Williams took note. In response to Makur Maker’s commitment announcement on Instagram, Williams commented “I’m all for it.” Ultimately, it will be tough for an HBCU like Howard to beat out the likes of Kansas, Memphis, Oregon, UCLA, and USC, who have already offered the high school freshman. He appears to be open to hearing them out, and considering the same monumental move.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 3, 2020
Maker’s decision on its own can’t be understated. The cousin of NBA player Thon Maker is the No. 17 player in the country for the 2020 class. He’s ranked No. 4 among centers, and No. 1 in Arizona, where he plays for Hillcrest Prep.
Credit to Howard and head coach Kenny Blakeney for impressive him on his official visit. The “family atmosphere” he promoted made all the difference, and he was impressed with how the athlete experience is different from some of the other programs that he was considering. His guardian Ed Smith described how Howard stood out to ESPN:
“A lot of people are comfortable with familiarity. Kids could say, ‘I would feel welcome that I’m not just an athlete — I’m part of a community,'” Ed Smith, Maker’s guardian, told ESPN recently. “On the visit at Howard, that was the main difference. Just for me on the outside looking in, he’s part of the fabric. You’re not just the athlete or the Black athlete.”
Time will tell if this turns into a greater trend, or is a one-off moment. In any case, it feels like a cool part of college hoops history.