The Making of an HBCU Division I National Champion: Can It Be Done


Yesterday my homie Kenny Masenda and I came up with this theory of how an HBCU could actually win the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. In theory it sounds so ridiculous but in reality it’s all about selling the dream.  All it will take is 3 5 star players committing to come to the right program and balling with a coach who can lead them. Look at it like Jalen Rose, Chris Weber, and Juwan Howard coming to any HBCU as a group and pairing with the one or two legit ballers that were able to sneak throug the cracks. I used the three members of the fab 5 as examples because that was their initial plan but for some reason they decided on Michigan instead of an HBCU last minute. The question is…. What is it going to take to get those 5 star kids who are already going to the NBA regardless to consider an HBCU and make this a reality?

As we made our way through the information there were a few things that were stated as constants.

  1. It’s gonna take money
    1. Facilities are going to need to be upgraded
    2. Division I basketball perks are going to need to be present (multiple uniform options, sneakers, and exposure)
    3. Even the possibility of leaving the HBCU Conference
    4. According to Michael Bryan Wolf:                                                                                          I think one of the most difficult obstacles would be the amount of money and resources that those top-tier programs have. You go on a visit to Duke and you see the highest level locker rooms, training room, players lounge, customized Duke Blue Devil shoes from Kobe, KD, Lebron, etc. You are on TV vs other top tier opponents 30 times a year, you have a platform and resources to publicize your name that you couldn’t match at an HBCU.

      Also, college schedules are usually finalized before recruiting classes, so if a group of 3 guys decided to come to NCCU, it would be cool to watch them play every once in a while against a Duke or a UNC, but would people tune in consistently to watch them beat a Delaware State or a NC A&T by 30 points consistently? Of course not. And by limiting their visibility, you are hurting their brand and marketability when they are looking at that as one of the biggest financial opportunities in their lives. They would be absolute heroes to those specific fanbases, but the marketability in that pales in comparison to the national fanbases of a Duke, UK, UCLA, etc.

      So if those specific student athletes are seriously considering an HBCU as an option, there will be tons of people in their ear about how many millions of dollars they are giving up in order to make that decision. They will be in bottom-level facilities, with tiny fanbases (in comparison), on an extremely small stage, with a fraction of the marketability in order to make a statement? I think that it would be an enticing narrative for a high school superstar who thinks highly of HBCU’s and the prospect of going there, but under pressure, they wouldn’t be able to turn down the money and visibility that they would receive at a larger program.

  2. It’s gonna take a person that can lead them
    1. A strong coach
    2. A strong administrative staff
    3. A vision by both the university and the athletic department
    4. According to Gregory-Amber Colbert · Friends with Kenny Masenda
      I believe like everyone else that it can be done but only in right circumstances.

      1) Need a charismatic and experienced coach the kids would respect
      2) Need to sell that HBCU won’t hurt them
      3) Need a town with national exposure to ensure kids want lose that ( DC, ATL, H-Town, Big D)
      4) rally alumni base around the kids

      That being said why you want to bring the one and done phenomena to HBCUs?

      What 5 star is staying more than a year these days.

    5. Another valid point offered by Eddie Maisonet III (The Sports Fan Journal)            I don’t dispute this idea totally. It would take the right coach, the right non-conference schedule and the right players to pull it off. It’s not that different than what Gonzaga’s done forever. Or what Loyola Marymount did with Hank and Bo.
  3. The schedule will have to be front loaded
    1. Elite kids are going to want to play against elite talent
    2. Television games are a must
    3. I offered up the fact that it can be done and used NCCU and Texas Southern as examples.                                                                                                                                        I ask you what HBCU is in a better position to pull this off than NCCU or Texas Southern. NCCU has DUKE, UNC, WF, NCSU, ECU, WCU in state. Schedule these teams for your non conference schedule 2 years in advance. Take them 500k payouts and when those 3, 5 stars join your 4 Juco transfers and your returning players from last year. it can work. Same thing at TSU. They have the infrastructure but they can also offer the big city aspect to the fold. They can’t deliver the same resume of programs with an hour drive but they can offer some relevant chances.
    4. Another point of view by: Shannon Marshall                                                               The right non conference schedule, joining a different conference, media exposure (which happens with scheduling right games to start out with) funding, the right coach and support staff that understand the process and patience to change a program, marketing team that strategic with exposure.
  4. Selling an AAU Coach and Parents on the Vision
    1. This is the hard part. Parents are a tough sell. They know that if their kid goes to Kentucky, Duke, UNC, or Kansas they are automatic in the draft if they play as freshmen. Hell you can go to Kentucky and never play and still be a first round draft pick.
    2. This is the tricky part. It’s hard to break the mold. Which kid will want to be a pioneer and start a trend. That’s my selling point. Ideally it won’t hard.

Maybe the only way it ever happens is if they can build a strong senior class and make a run. It still takes talent. Finding 7 kids that fell through the cracks to make that run is going to be hard. It’s gonna take BLUE CHIP talent to mix in with a few that fell through to pull it off. The good news is there is a plethora of basketball talent out there. The bad news is some kids would rather sit on the bench at a top program than to take their talents to a smaller school and thrive. It’s too bad too. I’ve seen guys who have transferred to the small school their last season and have enough success to make it to play pro ball and they always say, “If I would have done it a few years sooner, there’s no telling how good I could have gotten.” Maybe time will tell.



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