For the 10th year in a row, no HBCU players were selected in the NBA Draft. Kimberly Clark wants to change that narrative. Clark, through her organization the HBCU Basketball Association (HBCUBA), aims to give HBCU alums an outlet to continue their professional careers. The HBCUBA will host their inaugural season in February 2023. The league will feature six teams that will draft from a pool of HBCU talent to build out their rosters.
“We have talked to so many HBCU players that wanted that opportunity to play on a professional level, but unfortunately our schools are just not looked at hard enough for our players to have those opportunities all the time,” Clark told HBCU Sports.
An African-American professional league has long been proposed as a means of combating the lack of opportunities in mainstream leagues. Several Black leagues were created in the past to combat inequities in professional sports such the Negro Leagues (early to mid 1900s) in baseball. Clark believes in the vision, reportedly putting her own money into the venture as they search for sponsors.
“Some people’s vision is not as big as yours and not as long as yours. And we’re letting people know that our culture has always been inclusive.” Clark said of the establishment of the league.
The atmosphere of HBCU Sports has changed since 2020. Jackson State hired football coach Deion Sanders in September 2020, leading to an upsurge in interest in HBCU sports nationwide. Just this year, NBA Champion Mo Williams resigned as head coach of Alabama State University’s basketball team to become head coach of the Jackson State Tigers basketball team. This year four HBCU players were selected in the NFL draft and several were given training camp invites and undrafted free agent deals.
With the HBCU Basketball Association, former student-athletes at HBCUs will have the opportunity to further their professional careers.