HBCU D2 Men's Teams To Watch Next Season
The 2021-2022 men’s college basketball season is in the past. There's a lot to look forward to before the next season tips off. HBCU basketball is on the rise with the talent in our historically black colleges and universities getting much more recognition around the country. We will dive into Division II HBCU programs who may make a big run in 2022-2023.
The Golden Bears capped off the season with a 24-5 overall record, finishing 17-1 in conference play. They reached the national tournament for the third time in their last four seasons. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Western Division champions had a strong showing last year with junior guard Yasim Hooker who made first-team All-SIAC and obtained a second-team All-American nomination. Head coach Fred Watson, who earned his eighth SIAC Coach of the Year award in program history after last season, would go on to be named Jerry Johnson Division II Coach of the Year by HBCU All-Stars. With the program returning All-American Hooker and Coach Watson, the Golden Bears will work to bounce back from their early exit last season.
West Virginia St. (MEC)
West Virginia State had a very strong season from start to finish. The Yellow Jackets finished with a 24-8 overall and 18-4 in Mountain East Conference play. They made their sixth NCAA tournament appearance this season, but fell short in the regional semifinal game. The Yellow Jackets received many accolades due to the hard work of individual team members. Senior guard Glen Abram and junior forward Anthony Pittman made first-team All-MEC, while senior forward Jeremiah Moore made second-team All-MEC. Abram secured first team for his third consecutive year, finishing sixth all-time in WVSU scoring history. He would go on to win the Division 2 HBCU Player of the year and lead the All-American team. Moore earned his first All-conference honors and a second-team All-American nomination after being listed as an honorable mention in the previous two seasons. Pittman for the second time last season, received All-MEC first-team recognition, his play last season would earn him a spot for first-team all-American. Coach Bryan Poore was honored as the D2 HBCU BOXTOROW Co-Coach of the Year after his stellar season. A lot of weight is on Pittman’s shoulders this season with the need to fill the roles of two key losses, but don’t expect coach Poore and the Yellow Jackets to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Virginia Union (CIAA)
The Panthers finished last season 23-7 overall and 13-3 in conference play, securing the CIAA Northern Division crown going into tournament play. Their season came to an end in the CIAA championship game with a loss to top-seeded Fayetteville State. While many thought Virginia Union would suffer from the loss of All-CIAA senior Jordan Peebles, the Panthers utilized second-team All-American Robert Osborne, a junior forward who led the team in scoring this season. According to the Virginia Union athletics page, head coach Jay Butler gave Osborne high praise after earning an All-American nomination: “He had a great year and we are excited about having him for one more year in the program. He’s everything you look for in a student-athlete”. Coach Butler and the former Northern Division champs have a lot to look forward to this season.
Fayetteville State (CIAA)
Despite winning their conference, the Broncos’ season came to an end with a loss in the opening round of the NCAA Division II tournament. The Broncos finished their season 21-9 overall and 13-3 in CIAA conference play. The CIAA conference tournament champions punched their ticket to the big dance for the first time since 1993. Senior forward Jalen Seegars ended his collegiate season on a high note after securing All-CIAA team, CIAA Tournament MVP, first-team All-American, and was named HBCU All-Stars Sam Jones Division II National Player of the Year. Junior guard Cress Worthy would join Seegars on the All-CIAA team and second-team All-American. Head Coach Luke D’Alessio had a remarkable season as first-year head coach for the FSU Broncos. The BOXTOROW Co-Coach of the Year and All-American Worthy will now carry more weight. Though losing some key seniors, the Broncos will look to better last season.
Benedict College (SIAC)
From the SIAC, Benedict College finished last season 22-7 overall with a 14-3 record in conference play. Senior forward Tajh Green earned SIAC Player of the Year, along with securing first-team All-American recognition. Green was joined by fellow senior guard Timothy Bing Jr. for first-team All-SIAC. The Tigers were able to advance to the SIAC tournament championship game but fell short to Savannah State after knocking off defending champions Miles College in the semifinals. Although losing their major players, the Tigers have always adjusted in offseason to put them amongst the best in their conference. Expect the rest of their roster and newcomers to come in and make the big jump this season.
Morehouse College finished the season 21-7 overall and 15-2 in SIAC conference play. The SIAC Eastern Division champions’ historic season came to an end in the SIAC tournament semifinals. The Maroon Tigers tied their school record with the most consecutive wins in school history under first-year head coach Doug Whittler. After the year coach Whittler had in his interim season, he will prepare to get his team to make more history this season. There is a lot of work to still be done but the program is on a high rise and last season was a start for coach Whittler.
Winston-Salem St. (CIAA)
Winston Salem State out of the CIAA had a 19-7 overall record and was 12-3 in conference play. The Rams were led by senior guard Javonte Cooke, who was selected for the All-CIAA backcourt team and first-team All-American in his final season. Cooke was joined by fellow senior Cameron Campbell on the backcourt team. Isaac Parson was named to the CIAA All-Rookie Team. The Rams’ young core will be the focal point of them getting them to the promised land this season after losing those All-CIAA players from last season.
Lincoln Univ. in PA (CIAA)
Lincoln University of Pennsylvania finished their season 18-10 overall with an 11-5 CIAA conference record. The program was led by 2022 CIAA Player of the Year Zahrion Blue, making him the fifth Lion to receive this award in school history. Blue’s accomplishments continued to come in as he would go on to receive a first-team nomination for All-American, Division II Conference Commissioner Association first-team All-Region and a second-team All-Region honors by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in his junior season. According to Lincoln University's athletics site, “Another deserving accomplishment” said Coach Corey Lowery who won the CIAA Coach of the Year “Zahrion continues to make the University and his family proud. We look for even greater accomplishments in his future”. Freshman Bakir Cleveland received his first conference honors when selected to the All-Rookie team last season. After having the most wins from last season in program history since the 2013-14 season, the Lions will have their talent coming back making them a real threat this season.
Livingstone University finished off its season with a 14-10 overall record, with a 9-6 record in CIAA conference play. Senior forward Navar Elmore completed his collegiate career as CIAA Defensive Player of the Year, joined the All-CIAA front court team, and received second-team All-American recognition. Freshman Khyree Temple joined Elmore in all-conference honors making the All-Rookie Team. After the loss of Elmore, look for the Blue Bears to start building around Temple and the rest of their roster to make an impact this season.
Tuskegee University capped off its season 15-13 overall, along with an 11-7 record in conference play. Junior guard Devin Booker was the lone member of Tuskegee’s team this season to receive conference honors making first-team All-SIAC. Their strong schedule always allows for the Golden Tigers to have a major impact in conference play. And with Booker returning for his final year they will have a chance to make a major leap from last season.
Historically black colleges and universities began to receive the credit they truly deserved. These ten schools set the tone for what HBCU basketball is about in division two basketball, and we can expect more greatness to come from these programs going into the next season. It’s time to turn the spotlight to our HBCU athletes, the underdogs or the ones we never get to look at. Their hard work and dedication have put these men on the map and HBCUs are on the rise.
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