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Myles Turner on Makur Maker and HBCU’s

Myles Turner mulls whether he’d consider an HBCU if he were a recruit today

NCAA Basketball: Myles Turner announcement Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Early Friday morning, 5-Star Center Makur Maker (Cousin of Detroit’s Thon Maker), verbally committed to Howard University in what is one of the most surprising college decisions in recent NCAA history.

Howard, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Washington, D.C., hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1992. This is a landmark decision that likely sets Howard on a direction towards earning another appearance. As noted in the tweet above, Makur Maker is the highest ranked prospect to ever commit to an HBCU, and is the only five-star player to do so as well.

HBCU’s experience a great deal of difficulty in terms of recruiting. For reference, Indiana University spent $116,277,652 on athletics in 2018-18 (25th in NCAA athletics spending) according to USA Today. Howard meanwhile, spent $4,795,237 this past fiscal year on athletics. The Skjodt Assembly Hall seats over 17,000, over six times the seating of Howard’s Burr Arena.

I recently asked Myles Turner about his thoughts on Maker’s decision, as well as whether he would consider committing to an HBCU if he were in the current recruiting cycle.

“Thinking about it at the time and how powerful it is, it sounds like such a great idea, but to actually be in those shoes at 17 or 18 years old, you dream about going to the Duke’s, the Kentucky’s, the Texas’ of the world. It would be a tough decision, because you would want that full college experience, but at the same time you know you’re doing something for the greater good. So I think it just depends how mature you are at that stature.”

Turner, who spent his singular collegiate season at The University of Texas, was in a very similar position to Maker coming out of high school. Myles was the #6 overall recruit in the 2014 class per 24/7 Sports. Picture him swapping spots with Maker, another rangy 6’11 big man, and playing his one season at Howard. The fanfare, national coverage, and ability to showcase his talents could be second to none.

However, questions would (and already have) arisen about the conference competition in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. At UT, Myles played some of the highest collegiate competition in the country. Seeing as high-end competition plays a significant part in personal development, the argument about conference play and surrounding talent has some validity.

Duke, Kentucky, and Texas have built years of bringing in top talent into winning, legacy, and electric fan bases. There are countless moments that bigger schools can identify with in their history and that draw players to the program with the conception of creating those moments themselves.

Maker’s commitment is about so much more than winning, playing in tournaments, and hitting big shots in April. It’s about precedent and trailblazing in order to make the unexpected normalized. It’s one thing to make it to the Sweet-16 on a Cinderella run with a special team, but to build that into a legacy that you can sell to the next recruit is a different matter.

Transforming the program into a recruiting hot-bed and establishing pipelines takes time and is essential to bringing in players of Maker and Turner’s ilk. It can’t be understated how significant this move is not just for Howard, but HBCU’s in general.

Makur Maker’s commitment is an unprecedented first step towards HBCU’s becoming regular landing spots for NBA-Level talent, and I’m all for it. This is by far one of the coolest basketball moments of my lifetime! I’m amped to watch Maker play at Howard and the potential shock waves of his commitment.