Will top black athletes opt for HBCUs? Will top black students?

Trevor Keels will be a senior guard next season on the powerhouse high school basketball team Paul VI in Fairfax, Virginia. Keels is a five-star recruit and ranks among the top 25 high school players in the class of 2021.

Reportedly, he’s being recruited by the likes of Duke, Virginia, Villanova, and Michigan. The Washington area high school league Keels participates in has sent players to all of these schools in recent years (counting 2020). I’ve seen all of them play many times, and consider Keels at least their equal.

This week, the Washington Post reported that Keels is expanding his list of possible college destinations to include historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs):

Like many people, Keels felt angry and scared watching a video of George Floyd’s death in police custody in late May. While seeing people around the country protest police brutality and promote the Black Lives Matter movement, Keels wondered how he could build an African American support group at the university he begins attending in the fall of 2021.

Keels expressed interest in multiple schools where he felt that would be possible: historically black colleges and universities. At a time when many rising seniors are narrowing their choices, Keels also will consider scholarship offers from Hampton, Howard, Norfolk State and Texas Southern. He hopes to visit the schools soon.

My initial reaction was, sure, Keels might consider these schools, but he’ll end up at a traditional basketball power. That’s the smart move if one wants to maximize one’s prospects of appearing on a big stage, playing against the best, and, ultimately, making money in basketball.

But now I see that Makur Maker, another highly regarded prospect, has signed to play for Howard University. He tweeted:

I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other started to dream “what if”. I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney.

Maker is a seven foot center. He’s not the prospect Keels is, but ranks in the top 100 of this year’s class, according to this source. Reportedly, he chose Howard over Kentucky, Oregon, and Memphis, among other programs.

Rumor has it that Lebron James’ son, class of 2023, will likely commit to an HBCU, with North Carolina Central having the best shot. It’s probably too early to say where Bronny James will rank in his class when he’s a high school senior.

It’s also too early to say whether he will actually end up at an HBCU, and whether Maker’s decision is the beginning of a mini-trend. We’ll see.

I wonder whether angry black students like those in Princeton’s Black Justice League ever seriously considered attending an HBCU, rather than the allegedly racist hell holes they selected. I wonder whether black non-athletes with outstanding academic credentials will pass up schools like Princeton in favor of an HBCU.

I’ll be surprised if many do. But if Princeton and the rest of our elite colleges are as “systemically racist” as their black critics claim, maybe they should.

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