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Sarah Jones-Smith | April 6, 2022

Inaugural HBCU all-star game in New Orleans brings visibility to HBCU's and its players

Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images The Clarence Gains and John McLendon teams celebrate after the inaugural 2022 HBCU All-Star Game

The first-ever HBCU All-Star Game took place over Final Four weekend in New Orleans, allowing top basketball players from 23 HBCUs to showcase their skills on a larger platform and increase the visibility of HBCUs.

The two teams, Team Gaines and Team McLendon, were named after Clarence Gaines and John McLendon, two notable coaches who made significant contributions to African-American college basketball players. Team McLendon took home the trophy with a 79-75 win on Sunday afternoon, but both teams won when it came to exposure and experience.

"It's not about just the All-Star game," said Prairie View A&M guard Jawaun Daniels, who played for Team Gaines. "This whole movement was to push HBCUs, period. I feel like we are going to leave a mark on New Orleans just like the players competing in the Final Four."

For the last three years, HBCU All-Star Game founder Travis Williams battled through the COVID-19 and racial tensions to make his dream of providing HBCU basketball players a platform to showcase their talent. "What you saw today was a culmination of everything God placed in my spirit to get to this point," said Williams. "This is college basketball's biggest weekend. They [the players] set the foundation for the future of this."

Celebrities such as actor and singer Jamie Foxx, rapper Romeo "Lil Romeo" Miller and basketball legend Magic Johnson showed their support for the players by visiting them and offering encouragement.

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"Any time I can support "us" [the Black community], I am going to support us," said Miller. "We love this for our people and our community. We need more of this." The rapper shared that he was in Miami before the game when he experienced issues with his flight. When told alternate flights would result in him not making it on time, he drove 12 hours to make it to the HBCU game.

Tajh Green from Benedict College and Team McLendon was named MVP of the historic game, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

"We had to attack it [the game] like it's the next step to our future, said Green. “At the end of the day, you never know who is here." Earlier this year, Green was named SIAC player of the year after averaging of 14.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

The game not only highlighted basketball but HBCU culture as a whole. Members of Divine Nine fraternities and sororities represented their organizations by strolling on the court, while Southern University's "Human Jukebox" Marching Band performed at halftime and companies such as Coca-Cola and Capital One donated to the HBCU All-Stars scholarship fund. The players also participated in a Social Justice Roundtable, discussing pertinent issues involving the Black community.

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"Anyone knows that sports really pushes a needle for a lot of things that we are doing. This is a movement that we can't take for granted," said Williams. 

Listed below are those who participated in the 2022 HBCU All-star game. 

2022 HBCU All-Star Game Participants

Team Gaines

Javonte Cook - Winston-Salem State

Jalen Seegars - Fayetteville State 

Jawaun Daniels - Prairie View A&M

Darian Jones - Florida A&M

Brison Gresham - Texas Southern

Lenell Henry - Alcorn State

Navar Elmore - Livingstone

Jonas James - Jackson State

Kassim Nicholson - Tennessee State

Prince Moss - Grambling State

Jordan Peebles - Virginia State

Team McLendon

Najee Garvin - Hampton

Tajh Green - Benedict College

Brandon Miller - Miles College

Kyle Foster - Howard

Randy Miller - North Carolina Central

Kam Langley - North Carolina A&T 

Jaquan Lawrence - LeMoyne-Owen

Randall Brumant - Howard

Myles Carter - Delaware State

Noah Morgan - Morehouse

Trey Deloach - Savannah State

Deaquan Williams - South Carolina State

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