A mixture of 28 current and former black college hoop stars were on display Monday in the HBCU Showcase at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. The four-day event (July 9-12) was part of the 2022 Las Vegas NBA Summer League.
Four former NBA players now coaching in the HBCU ranks put the players through a series of private drills and five-on-five scrimmages during NBA Summer League. The players were divided into four 7-man teams for Monday’s workout that was open to the public. It was the final event of the four-day affair.
The line-ups featured talented players fresh off finishing their college eligibility with a number of former HBCU stars well into their professional careers. All were seeking to impress G-League and international scouts in attendance.
HBCU Showcase: Key players
Among the newbies were three 2021-22 players of the year. Fayetteville State wing Jalen Seegars took home the award in the CIAA. SIx-eight Benedict forward Tajh Green was named the top player in the SIAC. SIx-five Florida A&M guard M. J. Randolph eamed the SWAC POY honor. Among others that finished their eligibility this year were Hampton’s Najee Garvin, Prairie View A&M’s Jawaun Daniels and Hampton’s Davion Warren.
Warren, a 6-6 guard who led the Big South in scoring (21.2 ppg.) as a junior at Hampton before transferring to Texas Tech, was arguably the most impressive. According to one keen observer, Warren showed the ability to shoot from distance and drive strong to the basket. Warren started 33 of 37 games this season for the Red Raiders who made it to the NCAA Final Four.
“The showcase is a chance for us to continue creating opportunity for the world’s best talent,” said Morgan Cato, an NBA vice president who is about to become an assistant general manager with the Phoenix Suns. Cato spoke with Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press (AP).
“There’s a perception of HBCU programs not necessarily being able to turn out talent. But all of our investments from the league office are about creating opportunity, creating access, and letting great players really have the opportunity to be seen by teams,” Cato said.
The vets included MEAC career scoring leader C. J. Williams of Howard, former CIAA player of the Year and 2018 NCAA Div. II scoring leader Amir Hinton of Shaw and 2018 SWAC POY Martaveous McKnight of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. 2021 SWAC POY Tristan Jarrett of Jackson State, former Big South scoring leader Jermaine Marrow of Hampton, and 2020 SWAC Player of the Year Devante Patterson of Prairie View, were also among the vets.
HBCU Showcase coaches
Veteran NBA players now head coaches in the HBCU ranks led the teams.
Second-year Bethune-Cookman head coach and Athletics Director Reggie Theus, a 13-year NBA veteran and UNLV product, was the Showcase’s director. He coached Team Reggie. Bonzi Wells, who also had a 13-year NBA career out of Ball State, just completed his first year as head man at LeMoyne-Owen. Wells handled Team Bonzi.
Kenny Anderson, the current head coach at Fisk who starred at Georgia Tech before playing 15 years in the NBA, led Team Kenny. Current Jackson State head coach Mo Williams who played at Alabama before logging 15 years in the NBA, headed Team Mo. Williams spent the last two years as head coach at Alabama State before being named the JSU head coach after this season.
“I’m a visionary,” said Williams, also speaking with Reynolds. “We have a lot of talent at the HBCU level that don’t get those invites to the NBA Combine, to Portsmouth, the G League Combine now, to things like that. We feel like those kids are talented enough to be professional athletes. This is a start.”
A sparse NBA Summer League crowd watched the players go through a series of games that involved four six-minute quarters with a running clock.
Below is a list of the players, where they played college ball and where they last played professionally.
Team Reggie – April Sykes (Assistant Coach, Rutgers)
Brandon Tabb (Bethune-Cookman – Sweden), M. J. Randolph (Florida A&M), Najee Garvin (Hampton), Amir Hinton (Shaw – Finland), CJ Willilams (Howard – Luxembourg), Jawaun Daniels (Prairie View A&M)
Team Bonzi – Devin Green (Assistant Coach, Hampton)
Jacquan Lawrence (LeMoyne-Owen), Tajh Green (Benedict), Jermaine Marrow (Hampton – Spain), Jalen Seegars (Fayetteville State), Devante Patterson (Prairie View A&M – G League, Lakeland Magic), Marcus Barham (Florida A&M – Puerto Rico), Ron Jackson Jr. (NC A&T – Slovenia)
Team Kenny – Arinze Onuaku (Assistant Coach, Syracuse)
Giovanni Jackson (Fisk), Anthony Hassell (Fisk), Tobi Ewousho (Alabama State – Spain), Malique Trent (Hampton – Ukraine), Jeremy Combs (Texas Southern – Sweden), Lamar Morgan (Coppin State – Portugal)
Team Mo – (Daneil Ewing, Assistant Coach, Duke)
Brandon Battle (Alabama State, UIC), Kevion Stewart (Alabama State), Tristan Jarrett (jackson State – Toronto Raptors 905), Davion Warren (Hampton, Texas Tech), Jalyn Patterson (Texas Southern), Martaveous McKnight (Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Britain), Troy Baxter (Morgan State – Dominican Republic).