It’s an age-old question among Black basketball fans: Why won’t more top recruits play for HBCUs? After all, Black folks have long dominated the sport on every single level of competition — why not take those talents to a historically Black college and let those institutions of higher learning reap the same benefits that predominately white schools enjoy from the free labor of elite collegiate athletes?
Those questions could be answered in just a few years since prep school sports website Verbal Commits reported that LeBron James’ son, Bronny James, was offered an athletic scholarship from North Carolina Central University. The namesake son of one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball is just a 15-year-old freshman, but he already has two other standing offers from NCAA powerhouses Duke University and the University of Kentucky.
With that said, the 6-2 guard with a mean crossover isn’t even a starter for his top 10 nationally ranked Sierra Canyon High School basketball team, so these scholarships have been offered based on Bronny’s pedigree and promise alone. Duke and Kentucky will likely stay true to their offers, but if Bronny doesn’t live up to the unreal expectations that have placed on his young shoulders, he may not get much playing time during his expected one-and-done freshman season in college.
If Bronny only becomes half the player his father is, he would still be incredibly good — just, perhaps not major college basketball good. However, taking those same talents to an HBCU — where he could be a big fish in a little pond versus swimming among the sharks in the ACC or SEC — could equally help nurture his skills and allow him to lead an underdog team into the NCAA tournament.
Yes, these are all hypotheticals about a 15-year-old kid who has plenty of time to improve by leaps and bounds, just like his father did when he was in high school. But if you’re going to go to college for one year as a formality before entering your name into the NBA Draft, why not try something different? Bronny is set for life financially so he doesn’t need to go overseas to get paid while he waits to be one year removed from high school.
Playing HBCU ball could be the best of both worlds for him and also increase the profile of Black college hoops, which has always taken a back seat to predominately white universities’ athletics programs.
Oh, and by the way: North Carolina Central has a winning program that has won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s tournament for three straight years to advance to the prized NCAA tournament. While the Eagles were defeated in each of those three first-round games, a prized recruit like Bronny could prove to be all the difference.
Only time will tell.