Michael B. Jordan wants to keep a spotlight on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their athletic programs.
The actor, producer and 2020 winner of People’s Sexiest Man Alive, is launching the Hoops Dreams Classic beginning in 2021, Forbes reported. The college basketball showcase is the latest show of support for HBCUs during a year of racial reckoning in the United States.
Michael B. Jordan launches basketball showcase
The showcase will feature four of the top Division I HBCU men’s and women’s basketball programs, per Forbes. It will start with a one-day men’s basketball doubleheader showcase held on Dec. 18, 2021, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Jordan Bazant, co-head of partner WME Sports, said it will start with the men and either alternate between men’s and women’s programs or include both.
“This past year has been the tipping point for so many, including myself, in revving up support for Black people,” Jordan said in a statement to Forbes. “As a Newark native, I am committed to bringing change to the community and am honored to be able to present The Hoop Dreams Classic as a way to celebrate the value of community, education, and Black college experiences. Through our shared love of basketball, I look forward to bringing the communal spirit of HBCUs to the city that helped shape me into the man I am today.”
Jordan, who starred in “Black Panther,” “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station,” has called on Hollywood to hire more Black creators and support more diversity in storytelling.
Hoops classic will feature HBCU life, culture
It will be about more than the basketball programs. The showcase will “also feature an immersive cultural experience highlighting other elements of HBCU life and culture, including Battle of the Bands, live musical performances, film festivals, culinary events, and college and career opportunities,” per Forbes.
Partial proceeds will reportedly go to support organizations working to advance HBCUs and the Newark community.
What HBCUs might take part?
The programs for the first Hoops Dreams Classic have not been decided yet. A likely competitor is Howard University with freshman Makur Maker. Maker, a five-star recruit, became the highest-ranked prospect since the database started in 2007 to commit to an HBCU this summer.
He was ranked No. 16 in his class by ESPN and chose the school over powerhouses Kentucky, UCLA and Memphis. It was heralded as a move that would change the basketball landscape.
Another potential program is Alabama A&M, which became the first HBCU to rank first in the Division I College Basketball RPI rankings.
Interest in HBCUs higher in 2020
It’s been a banner year for interest, resources and funding at the schools.
Around the same time that Maker made his announcement, Mikey Williams, a five-star recruit in the class of 2023, said he was also considering HBCUs. Se’Quoia Allmond, a four-star recruit in the class of 2021, committed to Jackson State to play women’s basketball last month.
Earlier Wednesday, Jackson State and first-year head coach Deion Sanders made noise by flipping No. 1 JUCO cornerback De’Jahn Warren from Georgia.
HBCUs received record donations over the summer and had financial pledges from the PGA Tour, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and more. MacKenzie Scott donated more than $4.2 billion over the past four months to organizations that include multiple HBCU programs.
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