UPDATED: 5:00 p.m. ET, October 24, 2023
The NBA season has once again returned, but unfortunately, it’s another year in which not a single prospect from a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is projected to be selected by any of the 30 teams in the world’s most popular professional basketball league.
Over the NBA’s history, only 351 HBCU men’s basketball players have been drafted. Former Tennessee State forward Robert Covington, who plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, is the only active player on an NBA roster who played for an HBCU in college.
Covington, who was never drafted, got his start in the NBA in 2013. He’s played for five NBA teams including the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Covington was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2018.
But the shortage of numbers doesn’t mean that HBCU players haven’t made an impact in the league. According to SI.com, 17 HBCU programs — out of the 139 colleges and universities, have produced NBA Champions.
Players who competed at HBCUs have truly left their indelible mark on the NBA, but it has been a while.
Despite having a competitive summer, two players who attended HBCUs were invited to participate in the G-League Elite camp in May while NBA scouts and executives watched couldn’t break through.
And Isaiah Burke, a point guard who starred for Morgan State University, also took part in the 2023 NBA Draft Workouts for the Washington Wizards.
HBCU All-Star Isaiah Burke at 2023 NBA Draft Workouts with the Washington Wizards pic.twitter.com/wwrB5vdBNJ
— HBCU All-Star Game (@HBCUAllStarGame) June 8, 2023
But that seems to be the extent of the buzz around HBCU players in this year’s NBA Draft. In an indication of the mock drafts posted online, none, including ESPN’s, have a single HBCU player listed.
Previously, perennial all-star point guard Chris Paul renewed attention to the intersection of HBCUs and the NBA when he graduated last year from Winston-Salem State University.
After beating the Clippers in LA last night, Suns guard Chris Paul is getting ready to graduate from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina this morning. @andscape pic.twitter.com/pjQpzFg1w0
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) December 16, 2022
Aside from the fact that Paul decided to go back to school while still playing professionally to complete his unfinished degree, his graduation from an HBCU places a spotlight on other NBA players who also attended historically Black colleges and universities.
Paul has deep ties to WSSU. Both of his parents, Robin and Charles Paul, attended the school. He has 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.
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 University
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. Robert Covington, Tennessee State University
5. Bob Dandridge, Norfolk State University
6. Travis Grant, Kentucky State University
College Basketball Facts:
HBCU alum Travis Grant, who scored 4,045 points during his career at Kentucky State University, holds the all-division NCAA scoring record. He’s nicknamed “Machine Gun” & “The Machine”. pic.twitter.com/4GgJ6qggcs
— 247 Live Culture (@247LC) March 12, 2021
7. Devin Green, Hampton University
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
8. Cleo Hill, Winston-Salem State University
9. Avery Johnson, Southern University and A&M College
Avery Johnson solidified himself as a magnificent point guard for Southern University. In 1988, he led the nation in assists with 13.3 assists a game. He also averaged 11.4 points that season. #repost @slam magazine#HBCUAllStarGame #TheBestInBlackCollegeBasketball pic.twitter.com/9vR5IBvnfa
— HBCU All-Star Game (@HBCUAllStarGame) August 24, 2022
10. Sam Jones, North Carolina Central University
11. Lindsey Hunter, Jackson State University
12. Pee Wee Kirkland, Norfolk State University
Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland
Norfolk State, Guard 1967-1968 pic.twitter.com/IurVJPOHeH
— Random College Athletes (@RandomAthletess) November 15, 2021
13. Earl Lloyd, West Virginia State University
Earl Lloyd was a three-time All-CIAA standout and led the 1947-48 West Virginia State University team to a 23-0 record to win the league title.
He averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a game his senior year.
— Andscape (@andscape) February 8, 2021
14. Bob Love, Southern University and A&M College
24/29: Meet my Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity Brother Bob Love.
After starring at Morehouse High School in Bastrop, Louisiana, Love played basketball for Southern University, where he also became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, pledging Kappa Lambda Chapter.
— A. Cedric Armstrong (@cedteaches) February 24, 2020
15. Rick Mahorn, Hampton University
The Baddest Bad Boy of them all!
— Big South Conference (@BigSouthSports) October 3, 2020
16. Anthony Mason, Tennessee State University
Anthony Mason a Tennessee State University alum and NBA legend In his 13-year career He averaged 10.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in his 13-year NBA career. Mason earned the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1995 and led the NBA in minutes played in the following two seasons. pic.twitter.com/jBHAPVOE1O
— CashvilleEtc (@cashville_etc) August 2, 2020
17. Earl Monroe, Winston-Salem State College
Earl Monroe was a champion with HBCU Winston-Salem State College, but he didn’t become “The Pearl” until his smooth moves with the Baltimore Bullets. Known as one of the greatest one-on-one players of his era, Monroe introduced spin moves to the game. #BHM pic.twitter.com/zFSJMwIA5u
— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2021
18. Charles Oakley, Virginia Union University
19. Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State University
20. Willis Reed, Grambling College
Willis Reed at Grambling College in the early 1960s.
Reed averaged 26.6 PTS & 21.3 REB in 1963-64 and helped lead the Tigers to the NAIA championship in 1961. pic.twitter.com/LVHnYt2CK5
— NBA Cobwebs (@NBACobwebs) October 24, 2022
21. Truck Robinson, Tennessee State University
22. Carlos Rogers, Tennessee State University
Carlos Rogers (Tennessee State) pic.twitter.com/b8TaOYSM36
— Dad (@RealBisi) August 27, 2020