Phoenix Suns star point guard Chris Paul on Friday participated in the commencement ceremony at Winston-Salem State University, a historically Black college in North Carolina.
Aside from the fact that the perennial all-star decided to go back to school while still playing professionally to complete his unfinished degree, Paul’s graduation from an HBCU draws attention to other NBA players who also attended historically Black colleges and universities.
Paul enrolled at Winston-Salem State University in 2020 right around the same time as the height of Black Lives Matter protests surrounding the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
At the time, the North Carolina native was starring for the Oklahoma City Thunder and decided it was time to take steps to finish his collegiate studies that were interrupted when he left for the NBA following his sophomore year at Wake Forest University, which is about a 10-minute drive from Winston-Salem State University.
Paul has deep ties to WSSU. Both of his parents, Robin and Charles Paul, attended the school. He also hosted a star-studded charity basketball game at the school that included his fellow NBA stars, including Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and has donated $25,000 to WSSU’s athletic program through his philanthropic organization, the Chris Paul Foundation.
“Everyone in my family went to HBCUs except for me,” said Paul at the time. “If you grow up in the South, you’re going to have that culture and DNA in you so for me it’s just been about trying to give a voice to the voiceless. Everyone doesn’t always know about HBCUs and why they were created. I’m just trying to bring attention to them.”
It also can’t be forgotten that Paul enrolled at Winston-Salem State University during an election year in part to help ensure that HBCU students exercise their right to vote. He joined forces with two NBA players to provide transportation for students to get to the polls.
Paul said he was dedicated to utilizing his platform and resources to spread awareness about the importance of HBCUs and create opportunities for students within the HBCU community. It was in that context that Paul in 2020, through his foundation, teamed up with Live Nation Urban and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an HBCU, for the creation of a course that focused on the intersection of entertainment, media and sports.
“We are grateful for the generosity of Chris Paul and Live Nation Urban in providing these tremendous opportunities for our college,” said Kevin James, Ph.D. who serves as dean of the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics. “Our students have been very excited to be part of this experience as they are being introduced to a whole new world of opportunity in an active and engaging way.”
While other NBA players attended HBCUs, none has ever done it while playing professionally.
Here’s a look at other NBA players who attended HBCUs. Who are we forgetting?
1. Darrell Armstrong, Fayetteville State UniversitySource:Getty
Darrell Armstrong attended Fayetteville State University from 1988-1991 and went undrafted by the NBA before the Orlando Magic signed him as a free agent in 1994. He went on to play for five NBA teams before retiring and becoming a coach.
2. Dick Barnett, Tennessee State University
Dick Barnett starred at Tennessee State University from 1955 to 1959 and was selected by the Syracuse Nationals as the fourth overall pick of the 1959 draft. He played with three NBA teams over the course of 14 seasons and notably was a key part of the New York Knicks’ championship teams in 1970 and 1973.
3. Zelmo Beaty, Prairie View A&M University
4. Bob Dandridge, Norfolk State University
5. Travis Grant, Kentucky State University
6. Devin Green, Hampton UniversitySource:Getty
Hampton v University of Connecticut WASHINGTON DC – MARCH 15: Devin Green #2 of the Hampton Pirates looks to move the ball from the perimeter in the game against the University of Connecticut Huskies during the first round of the NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Championship at MCI Center in Washington, DC on March 15, 2002. The Huskies won 78-67. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2002 Getty Images (Photo by Doug Pensinger /Getty Images) devin green – hampton v university of connecticut
7. Cleo Hill, Winston-Salem State University
8. Avery Johnson, Southern University and A&M College
9. Sam Jones, North Carolina Central UniversitySource:Getty
10. Lindsey Hunter, Jackson State UniversitySource:Getty
JSU Tigers SWAC Tourney Champs # 11 Lindsey Hunter, SWAC Tourney MVP, heavyweight Champ Evander Holyfield (black sweater) & Com. James Frank JSU Vs TX So. 3/2/91. (Photo by Jackson State University via Getty Images) microphone,color image,photography,horizontal,usa,adult,sport,men,basketball – sport,event,competition,1990-1999,nba,award,sports clothing,suit,gesturing,sports uniform,achievement,winning,handshake,speech,heavyweight,championship,coach,most valuable player,basketball uniform,evander holyfield,basketball player,historically black colleges and universities,sports jersey,sportsperson,sports court,southwestern athletic conference
11. Pee Wee Kirkland, Norfolk State University
12. Earl Lloyd, West Virginia State University
13. Bob Love, Southern University and A&M College
14. Rick Mahorn, Hampton University
15. Anthony Mason, Tennessee State University
16. Earl Monroe, Winston-Salem State College
17. Charles Oakley, Virginia Union University
18. Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State UniversitySource:Getty
College Basketball: NCAA Playoffs: Norfolk State Kyle O’Quinn (10) victorious after winning game vs Missouri at CenturyLink Center. Omaha, NE 3/16/2012 CREDIT: Bill Frakes (Photo by Bill Frakes /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X154491 TK2 R12 F88 )
19. Willis Reed, Grambling College
20. Truck Robinson, Tennessee State University
21. Carlos Rogers, Tennessee State University
22. Woody Sauldsberry, Texas Southern University
23. Ben Wallace, Virginia Union University
24. Mo Williams, Jackson State University
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