The top 15 players in the 2020 college basketball recruiting class all went to teams fans might expect. Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Kentucky. A couple of prospects took their talents to the NBA G League and decided to wet their beak on what amounts to a professional minor league system. However, the 16th ranked prospect according to ESPN decided to zig while guys like Jalen Suggs decided to zag(pun intended). 6’11” center Makur Maker decided to go in a different direction, by committing to playing with the Howard University Bison.
As it turned out, Maker’s season did not quite go as well as Cade Cunningham’s, Suggs’ or Evan Mobley’s. To be honest, it barely even got started. The five star prospect suited up in two games for the Bison, recording 23 points and 12 rebounds in that small sample size. He was never seen again on the court for Howard, as he battled an unfortunate groin injury that ended up sidelining him for the rest of the season.
While the lack of production and playing time so far in his college career is an inauspicious way to begin his post high school life, Maker’s decision to play for Howard wasn’t primarily ever about his basketball development. If he wanted to go up against the best, and be coached by revered minds, he would’ve taken his talents to the ACC or the Big 10. The young man instead elected to go to Howard in order to establish a societal precedent.
“I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow,” Maker stated on Twitter.
Maker’s reasoning for committing to Howard are incredibly noble, but it looks like his tenure with the team will end after the two aforementioned contests. He announced that he would not be entering the NBA Draft, but also indicated a return to the Bison was also not in the cards.
Injuries played a part in Maker’s short-lived tenure at Howard, but will his lack of playing time there short circuit a movement he was hoping to start? There’s very little footage of Maker dominating the competition at Howard, and his flash in the pan stint there may not register in the consciousness of the public. Ideally, his highlights would have been peppered all over SportsCenter, Youtube and Twitter, and the impact of his decision would’ve reached society multiple times a week thanks to his on-court play.
Instead, his tenure with the Bison, and perhaps with college basketball in general may only register in an “oh yeah, he was there!” type of way. Maker didn’t really succeed in putting HBCU’s on the map as legitimate destinations for five star prospects; but he didn’t fail either since injuries are a part of the game. With the incomplete grade on his experience, it will be intriguing to see whether any other prominent African-American prospect tries to go the same route.