Release The Maker.
On this Thanksgiving holiday, one of the most anticipated debuts in HBCU college basketball history will take play when Howard takes the court against Belmont in the DC Paradise Jam in Washington, D.C. at 4 p.m (ET). on ESPN3.
All eyes will be on Makur Maker — the highest-ranked prospect ever landed by a black college program — is expected to shoulder a lot of the burden and attention for a Bison outfit not accustomed to this position.
So what can fans expect from a player who turned down Power 5 programs and possible NBA overtures to sign with a group that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in years?
“As a player, he is so physical and a hard worker,” Howard head coach Kenny Blakeney said during a recent appearance on “The Jim Rome Show.” I was really shocked at how physical he is at 6-11, seven feet, and 230 pounds. He loves contact which is awesome and it’s great for our team.
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“He’s a guy that wakes up at six o’clock in the morning or 5:30 in the morning (and) gets 500 shots up in the gym. You know, after that, he does his yoga and he’s off to lifting weights after that and then he practices with our team. So there’s a certain degree of professionalism about him, and he’s really driven and understands what he’s trying to achieve.”
Aside from the immediate on-court impact Maker will bring to Howard, his association with the university, said Blakeney, has already extended beyond the confines of basketball.
“I think you get a chance for bookstore sales. You know, bookstore sales will increase with Maker being here,” said Blakeney. “More people want to, I think, be attached to our brand and understanding that the culture and what he brings to our university and our basketball program, you know, we’ll have a chance to have a lot of our games nationally televised this year, which is incredible.”
When Maker announced his commitment to Howard in July, it signaled the start of a possible movement of elite black athletes defying conventional wisdom attending black colleges instead of blue blood institutions.
“There’s a real kind of like avalanche, I think, a situation that comes from it, which is all totally positive, you know for Howard and I hope the momentum continues with HBCUs,” said Blakeney. “So the momentum and the change is starting to happen with this movement.”