Football has been the headliner among HBCU sports due in large part to the influence and social media brilliance of Deion Sanders, but Black college hoops culture refuses to be left behind when it comes to the amount of events highlighting its talent and affiliated star power.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is mindful and appreciative of the contributions of Black athletes, Black coaches and HBCUs. The organization announced the second annual circuit of two HBCU basketball events, the Boost Mobile HBCU Tip-Off and the Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge hosted by Phoenix Sun Chris Paul, a 12-time NBA All-Star and NBA 75th anniversary team selection.
“We are so excited for the second year of our HBCU Challenge. It is great to work with our partners to give these student athletes a national stage they may not otherwise have,” said Paul in a statement. “I hope these events give these players an experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
Just announced! The @boostmobile HBCU Challenge hosted by 12x NBA All-Star Chris Paul is coming to Vegas. 🏀 @CP3 is your MC for 2 thrilling days of hoops action at MGM Grand Garden Arena December 17 and 18.
🎟️ https://t.co/H2euhsARAC pic.twitter.com/RYeVz8mSXP
— MGM Grand Hotel (@MGMGrand) June 1, 2022
The Boost Mobile HBCU Tip-Off will take place Nov. 15-16 at Mohegan Sun Arena with four historically Black colleges and universities participating. The two-day doubleheader will feature Clark Atlanta University, Virginia Union University, Johnson C. Smith University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
The Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge is December 17-18 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with four HBCUs on the slate. The two-day double-header will feature Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Texas Southern University, and North Carolina A&T State University.
“Chris Paul has been a committed supporter of HBCUs and has diligently worked to create opportunities for the student-athletes at these institutions,” said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Paul, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, has actively supported HBCUs for years. He’s even expressed that if he had not been a basketball prodigy at a time when attending an HBCU was unheard of, he would have personally appreciated an HBCU education.
Paul was recently appointed to President Joe Biden’s advisory board on historically Black colleges and universities. Now he’s using his influence to enhance the HBCU experience by bringing visibility to student-athletes, while also supporting educational programs.
“It is a great honor,” said Johnson C. Smith University men’s basketball coach Stephen Joyner in a statement. “This tournament will give our young players the opportunity to experience something not usually available to HBCU student-athletes and to compete on a national stage. Chris and I are from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and raised in the backyard of one of the most prestigious black college basketball powerhouses, Winston-Salem State University, which was coached by the late Clarence “Big House” Gaines and former player Earl “The Pearl’ Monroe led WSSU to an NCAA title. Both of these men are members of the Naismith Hall of Fame. This HBCU Tip-Off will allow America to see the talent that we have on the court.”
Paul executive produced “Why Not Us: North Carolina Central Basketball” and “Why Not Us: FAMU Football” on ESPN+. In addition, Paul partnered with Harvard Business School to bring its entertainment, media and sports program to select HBCUs to develop a pipeline for students pursuing careers in those industries.
He launched HBCU voting initiatives to encourage students to vote during the past election and partnered with Sour Patch Kids and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to create The Mischief for Change Scholarship, a $1 million commitment over the next five years for students attending HBCUs.
The Boost Mobile Tip-Off and the Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge hosted by Chris Paul are two events in the Hall of Fame’s series of collegiate events, which continues to grow in an effort to celebrate the game outside the museum walls.
“I can’t thank Chris Paul enough for giving Virginia Union University a platform to showcase our talent on a big stage,” said Lester Butler, Virginia Union University hoops coach.
Without certain individuals with connections and resources lending them to HBCUs, acquiring exposure for those schools is difficult. Hampton University coach Edward “Buck” Joyner is one of the people who acknowledges how valuable Chris Paul’s commitment to HBCU culture is.
“We are truly grateful to Chris for what he has done for Hampton University Men’s Basketball,” said Joyner in teleconference, “but more importantly for the advocacy, intentionality, resources, time, and opportunities he is dedicating to the advancement of our historically Black colleges and universities.”