Duke has long been considered a favorite to land LeBron James Jr., son of the Los Angeles Lakers superstar and living NBA legend. In the wake of today's monumental Makur Maker news, oddsmakers think that Bronny James may continue the trend of superstar recruits heading to HBCU schools.
Maker, the top uncommitted 2020 recruit entering the day, turned down Kentucky, Memphis, and UCLA. Instead, he committed to Howard University, a prominent HBCU located in Washington, D.C.
In his announcement, Maker, cousin of NBA forward Thon Maker, called on other star recruits to follow in his footsteps. He named 2023 superstar recruit Mikey Williams, ESPN's No. 3 recruit in the class, in particular. A few months ago, Williams floated the idea of going to an HBCU, and seems to be seriously considering it.
Williams and Bronny James are close, and there is some speculation that they could look to play together at the next level. Bronny has also drawn the attention of some HBCU programs, which have started getting more aggressive in recruiting top athletes. One of the most highly-respected and successful HBCU coaches, North Carolina Central's LeVelle Moton, made headlines in January when he offered James. Now, the school has been installed as the favorite to land him by Bovada's oddsmakers.
Moton shared some serious insight into the shifting recruiting strategy, after he offered James. He obviously couldn't mention any recruit by name, but he said that his program and other HBCUs need to be aggressive and make top players say "no" to them.
In the process, he took a big shot at one college hoops recruiting power in particular: Kentucky. From The Undefeated:
Moton said: “When you think of the atrocities that have happened in our society, in a society where an arena is named after someone who is a known racist, at a school where if these kids were playing back when he was coaching, he would not have allowed them on his team and those schools would not even have allowed them to attend – those kids go flocking to that school to go play in that arena today.
“But when a coach is from a black college and offers that kid the same opportunity, that coach is criticized. That doesn’t even make sense.’’
Moton, of course, was referencing Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, and coincidentally that program is part of his proof that aiming high has always been his philosophy and that this is nothing new for him. Back in the spring of 2009, barely a month after Moton was promoted to head coach, consensus high school All-American and future NBA overall No. 1 draft pick John Wall – like Moton, a Raleigh, North Carolina, native – famously made N.C. Central one of his campus visits before picking, yes, Kentucky.
“John Wall lived four doors down from me,’’ Moton said, before laying out the short, pointed version of his mindset: “I offered John Wall. He had to say no.’’
Translation: If the best players in the country don’t take the HBCU leap and play for Moton, it won’t be because he never asked them to.
New Howard coach Kenny Blakeney did just that in recruiting a player like Makur Maker, and now he's set to have a historic blue chip center play at his school. If he has success there, he almost definitely won't be the last, whether Bronny James, Mikey Williams, or another elite player before 2023 follows in his footsteps.