The college sports landscape is changing. Athletes are now in control of their destiny more than ever, thanks to NIL deals which are now allowing for the playing field to be leveled quite a bit. Universities that couldn’t even fathom landing a top recruit can now consider themselves in the running to land potentially once-in-a-generation talent like a Makur Maker.
This brings us to the South Sudanesehooper’ss decision to forgo a leap straight to the NBA and instead play college basketball at the historically black institution Howard University. HBCU athletics gained the national spotlight after Hall-of-Fame NFL legend Deion Sanders took the head coaching job at Jackson State. But it was the 19-year-old prospect at the time which shook the table when he hit the send button on a tweet in July 2020.
With his decision, Makur Maker became the first the top basketball recruit to commit to an HBCU since Earl Jones hooped at the University of District of Columbia in 1980. The excitement was understandably high with the 7’0 phenom with ball-handling skills, who can score the basketball plus could defend, chose to be a Bison.
Speaking with The Undefeated, Makur Maker revealed why he decided that Howard University was where he needed to be. He credited the fact notable graduates like the late Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Anderson, and Vice President Kamala Harris attended the prestigious school.
Maker also noted that he wanted to “change the current culture and climate” that kept five-star athletes such as himself from even considering taking their talent to an HBCU.
Maker hopes to make it into the NBA like his cousin Thon Maker via Howard University, but unfortunately, he hit a snag thanks to COVID-19 dooming the Bison’s season. Makur Maker would eventually decide to take his talents back overseas to Australia to play in the NBL. He has entered the 2022 NBA Draft keeping his hoop dreams alive.
AppleTV+ recently dropped a new documentary, The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball, highlighting his decision to play at Howard University and his trials and tribulations during the season that didn’t happen.
Cassius Life had the opportunity to speak with Maker Makur following the release of his AppleTV+ documentary. We touched on the decision to play at Howard University and if he had any regrets about his decision.
We also asked Maker if he feels there will be a top sports draft pick out of the NBA or NFL and working with former NBA player Luc Longley in NBL.
Step into the interview below.
Cassius Life: Was there ever a moment where you had second thoughts about his decision to go to Howard University?
Makur Maker: When the season was canceled because of Covid and the schools that recruited me were playing, I had second thoughts, of course. I’m watching these guys who I played against successfully in HS and AAU have success while I’m sitting there. That was tough. Now, as I’m thinking about it, I wouldn’t change my path. My experience will help me be able to go through the highs and lows of life as a professional athlete. I’m also a champion that played an important role in us winning a championship at Sydney.
Now, as I’m thinking about it, I wouldn’t change my path. My experience will help me be able to go through the highs and lows of life as a professional athlete. I’m also a champion that played an important role in us winning a championship at Sydney.
MM: I think it’s only a matter of time before that happens, whether it’s an HBCU or just a small school in general. You know you do see players thrive out and come out of small schools. As you see, Ja Morant came out of Murray State. You know Steph Curry [came] out of Davidson, so it doesn’t really matter. So I think like whoever goes to these schools, and if it happens, you know- regardless of the situation or HBCU, let them show the best of what they can do.
CL: Now, the goal is still to make it to the NBA, correct?
MM: Yeah, correct.
CL: Regardless, if you don’t go second round- would that still work out for you? Are you into the 2022 NBA Draft?
MM: To be honest, I haven’t even thought about the NBA draft becauseI’mm so focused on this present and we’re so locked in that we just won our first series of Grand Finals and two more, and we won the championship. So we’ve been having a great season over here, and I’m learning a lot, so I’m just finishing this last stretch, enjoying the season over here, and having a great time. Learning so much.
How many guys get to tell their story on a documentary like The Long Game? Life is about wanting and accepting challenges presented to you. So no, I wouldn’t.
CL: You get to work alongside Luke Longley, who played along with the goat – Michael Jordan. Have you got any lessons from Longley and playing in the NBA?
MM: Yeah. I’ve learned a lot. Luke is the one I’ve learned a lot from behind the scenes and not only in just what it’s like playing professionally but skills of being professional and what it takes. And Chase Beauford, our head coach, taught me a lot about the NBA game. We kinda play a modern NBA game also. And Andrew Bogut as well, I mean, he was a number one pick as well, and he was very skilled and had a great experience. So I’m learning a lot about the NBA game, and it’s helping. I feel like I’m learning a lot from them.
The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball is now streaming exclusively on AppleTV+.
Photo: Getty Images