For much of its its history, black college basketball has been marginalized or ignored. Other than a few Hall of Fame names, most people really don’t know much. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the great players in HBCU Hoops History, from the 50s to the present day. We start out with our group of All-Stars from the 40s and 50s.
Sam Jones, North Carolina College
A five-time NBA All-Star, Sam Jones has 10 NBA Championship rings, second only to former teammate Bill Russell. Before coming to the Celtics, Jones played his college ball at North Carolina College, now known as North Carolina Central. Originally recruited to by John McLendon, Jones scored over 1,7000 points in his college career, which was extended a year by military service.
Cleo Hill, Winston-Salem Teachers College
By all accounts, a player that was before his time. The high-flying Newark, NJ native averaged 25.4 points per game at Winston-Salem, leading the Rams to back-to-back CIAA Championships in 1960 and 1961.
Earl Lloyd, West Virginia State
Lloyd will go down in history as the first African-American to play in an NBA game. But before he broke the NBA’s color barrier, Lloyd was a standout center on a powerhouse West Virginia State squad. The dominant big-man led West Virginia State to back-to-back CIAA titles in 1948 and 1949 and another championship game appearance in 1950.
Dick Barnett, Tennessee A&I
After starring at Gary Rosevelt High in the early 50s, Barnett found his way to Tennessee A&I, where he played under the tutelege of legendary John McLendon. Barnett helped lead the team to three-straight NAIA titles, making the Tigers the first HBCU to win a national title, and averaging 23.6 points per game for his collegiate career. He went on to play over a decade in the NBA, becoming a part of the New York Knicks championship teams in 1970 and 1973.
Woody Sauldsberry, Texas Southern
Sauldsberry played two years at Texas Southern before signing with the Harlem Globetrotters. He would start his NBA career off with the Philadelphia Warriors, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1958. Sauldsberry would go on to become the first player from an HBCU to be an NBA All-Star.
Coach: John McLendon
Undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball minds of the sports first century, McLendon was at the peak of his powers during this era. After leading North Carolina College to two CIAA Tournament Championships in 1946 and 1950, McLendon found his way to Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State) where he won three-straight NAIA Championships
Al Attles, North Carolina A&T
Joe Howell, North Carolina A&T
Ernie Garrett. Morgan State
Jack Defares, Winston-Salem State