For athletes, the recruiting process can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. With big-name programs and coaches knocking on their doors, top recruits can often go wherever they want. And for some of this year’s top recruits, that is Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And they’re getting support from a social media movement birthed in the Triad called HBCU Jump.
“When everything was happening with the civil unrest lately, I didn’t see any of the major coaches from Division One saying anything about this stuff,” Tyler Does said.
That silence spurred the Does, who’s a comedian, to action. Last month, he got together with fellow comedians North Carolina A&T alumnus Darren Brand, radio personality and Winston-Salem State alumnus and Brian “Bdaht” McgLaughlin. From those initial conversations came HBCU Jump.
“It’s like that leap of faith because a lot of people aren’t doing it,” Does said.
In just a month, HBCU Jump has grown into a network of HBCU alumni and advocates, many of whom are former athletes like Jasmine Gurley who swam at North Carolina A&T. They connect with families and coaches of top athletes of all races to present HBCUs as an option.
“And I just think a lot more parents would feel safer if they know their kids are in a community where people understood them and protected them,” Does said.
“We’re not just looking at the athlete,” Gurley said. “We want to look at them as a student and as a human being too because that’s very core to the HBCU experience. You are a human and you are able to be more than just a number or more than just the numbers you put on the board.”
Some of the highest rated recruits are buying in.
Former Wake Forest basketball standout Sharone Wright Jr. is transferring to Morgan State University. And five-star center Makur Maker shocked the basketball world when he picked Howard University over traditional powers Kentucky and UCLA.
“The importance of this for HBCU athletics is just that awareness piece. If they don’t make that decision to go to those schools, there are tons of athletes who look up to them who will also be saying ‘Maybe I should take a look at that. Maybe I should be paying attention a little bit more,’” Gurley said.
North Carolina A&T head men’s basketball coach Willie Jones says because of the current social state in America, HBCUs are in play for the four- and five-star recruits they may not have been able to get before.
“It’s something that we’ve already attacked,” Jones said. “The second week I took the job, I sent coach Dorsett to California to offer LeBron James’ son and Dwyane Wade’s son. We want to make sure we do our part and hopefully some good things happen for us on the back end.”
And if more make the HBCU jump, they believe exposure will follow.
“The cameras are going to go where the talent goes,” Gurley said.
The team at HBCU Jump has a very personalized approach. They know the athletic goals, but they talk to their families and coaches about their personal and academic goals outside of the sport and then recommend potential schools based on those conversations. Their work is for athletes of all races and all sports.
If you’d like to learn more or follow their work, you can search HBCU Jump on all the major social media platforms.