The first-ever HBCU All-Star Game took place over Final Four weekend in New Orleans, allowing top basketball players from 23 HBCUs to showcase their skills on a larger platform and increase the visibility of HBCUs.
The two teams, Team Gaines and Team McLendon, were named after Clarence Gaines and John McLendon, two notable coaches who made significant contributions to African-American college basketball players. Team McLendon took home the trophy with a 79-75 win on Sunday afternoon, but both teams won when it came to exposure and experience.
"It's not about just the All-Star game," said Prairie View A&M guard Jawaun Daniels, who played for Team Gaines. "This whole movement was to push HBCUs, period. I feel like we are going to leave a mark on New Orleans just like the players competing in the Final Four."
For the last three years, HBCU All-Star Game founder Travis Williams battled through the COVID-19 and racial tensions to make his dream of providing HBCU basketball players a platform to showcase their talent. "What you saw today was a culmination of everything God placed in my spirit to get to this point," said Williams. "This is college basketball's biggest weekend. They [the players] set the foundation for the future of this."
Celebrities such as actor and singer Jamie Foxx, rapper Romeo "Lil Romeo" Miller and basketball legend Magic Johnson showed their support for the players by visiting them and offering encouragement.
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"Any time I can support "us" [the Black community], I am going to support us," said Miller. "We love this for our people and our community. We need more of this." The rapper shared that he was in Miami before the game when he experienced issues with his flight. When told alternate flights would result in him not making it on time, he drove 12 hours to make it to the HBCU game.
Tajh Green from Benedict College and Team McLendon was named MVP of the historic game, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
"We had to attack it [the game] like it's the next step to our future, said Green. “At the end of the day, you never know who is here." Earlier this year, Green was named SIAC player of the year after averaging of 14.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
The game not only highlighted basketball but HBCU culture as a whole. Members of Divine Nine fraternities and sororities represented their organizations by strolling on the court, while Southern University's "Human Jukebox" Marching Band performed at halftime and companies such as Coca-Cola and Capital One donated to the HBCU All-Stars scholarship fund. The players also participated in a Social Justice Roundtable, discussing pertinent issues involving the Black community.
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"Anyone knows that sports really pushes a needle for a lot of things that we are doing. This is a movement that we can't take for granted," said Williams.
Listed below are those who participated in the 2022 HBCU All-star game.
2022 HBCU All-Star Game Participants
Javonte Cook - Winston-Salem State
Jalen Seegars - Fayetteville State
Jawaun Daniels - Prairie View A&M
Darian Jones - Florida A&M
Brison Gresham - Texas Southern
Lenell Henry - Alcorn State
Navar Elmore - Livingstone
Jonas James - Jackson State
Kassim Nicholson - Tennessee State
Prince Moss - Grambling State
Jordan Peebles - Virginia State
Najee Garvin - Hampton
Tajh Green - Benedict College
Brandon Miller - Miles College
Kyle Foster - Howard
Randy Miller - North Carolina Central
Kam Langley - North Carolina A&T
Jaquan Lawrence - LeMoyne-Owen
Randall Brumant - Howard
Myles Carter - Delaware State
Noah Morgan - Morehouse
Trey Deloach - Savannah State
Deaquan Williams - South Carolina State