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.
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.
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 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. Robert Covington, Tennessee State UniversitySource:Getty
5. Bob Dandridge, Norfolk State University
6. Travis Grant, Kentucky State University
7. 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