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Beyond the Bracket: The HBCU All-Star Game Lights Up Final Four Weekend


"The Road Ends Here" is often the slogan of the NCAA Men’s Final Four, but for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), it rings true at the HBCU All-Star Game. An event that shines a spotlight on the incredible talent within Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Spearheaded by Travis Williams, the game aims to elevate the visibility of HBCU athletes and provide a platform for them to showcase their skills.

The third-annual HBCU All-Star Game, held on April 7th in Phoenix, Arizona, was a testament to the growing momentum of this movement. With a sold-out crowd of over 7,000 in attendance at the Global Credit Union Arena, the atmosphere was electric as HBCU alumni, fraternity and sorority members, and HBCU fans gathered to witness the best players from the SWAC, MEAC, CIAA, and SIAC conferences compete.

Williams, the visionary behind the All-Star Game, understands the significance of mentorship and education for Black college student-athletes. Drawing from his own coaching experiences at institutions like Tennessee State and Fort Valley State, he recognized the need to provide HBCU players with opportunities to showcase their talents on a national stage.

The event itself was truly remarkable. A special message from NBA superstar Kevin Durant set the tone for an unforgettable afternoon of basketball. Broadcasted live on CBS Sports, the game featured two teams, Team Ben Wallace and Team Rick Mahorn, competing for glory.

However, the HBCU All-Star Game was more than just basketball; it was a celebration of culture, community, and excellence. Fans started off the morning at a Fan Fest on the campus of Grand Canyon University in their quad, including vendors and college showcases added to the festive atmosphere, while halftime performances by the Morehouse Cheerleading Squad and the Clark Atlanta University Mighty Marching Panthers showcased the rich traditions of HBCU spirit.

For the players, the game was an opportunity to shine on a national stage and take the next step in their basketball careers. With custom-made suits from Reveal Suits, commemorative rings from Jostens, and official gear from Nike, they were treated to a first-class experience befitting their talent and dedication. Players were also given the chance to watch the Men’s NCAA Final Four games at State Farm Arena from a suite, enjoying the two semifinal games - NC State vs. Purdue and Alabama vs. UCONN.

Beyond the court, the HBCU All-Star Game was a celebration of service and community engagement. From homeless outreach initiatives to educational school fairs, the event underscored the importance of giving back and making a positive impact in the communities we serve.

As the final buzzer sounded and Team Ben Wallace emerged victorious, it was clear that the HBCU All-Star Game had transcended the realm of sports to become a cultural phenomenon. With founder Travis Williams leading the charge, this annual gathering of HBCU talent during the Men’s NCAA Final Four weekend is poised to continue breaking barriers and inspiring the next generation of Black college athletes.

As someone who had the privilege of attending the event, I can attest to the unparalleled energy and enthusiasm that permeated every moment. From courtside interactions with players to the camaraderie shared among fans, the HBCU All-Star Game was a testament to the power of unity and excellence. It felt just like a HBCU homecoming football game, complete with tailgating and passionate fans. This gathering on the West Coast, where HBCUs are rare, provided an opportunity for communities to witness the strong bonds and fellowship shared among HBCU alumni.

In the words of Dhashon Dyson, the game's MVP, "Everybody came and was ready to put on a show. Everybody knew they had to compete." Indeed, the HBCU All-Star Game was not just a game; it was a celebration of resilience, talent, and the enduring legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Founder Travis Williams expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support received from leaders and organizations across Arizona, acknowledging the collective effort that made the event a resounding success. With plans to continue expanding and evolving, the HBCU All-Star Game is poised to become an enduring symbol of excellence and empowerment for years to come.

Team Rick Mahorn (MEAC, SIAC, Independents All-Stars)
1.Fred Cleveland Jr, North Carolina Central University (MEAC) PG 5'9
2.Chris Martin, Clark Atlanta University (SIAC) PG 6'2
3.Raquan Brown, South Carolina State University (MEAC) SG 6'3
4.Ja'Darius Harris, North Carolina Central University (MEAC) SG 6'3
5.Christian Brown, Tennessee State University (INDEP) SG 6'6
6.Allen Betrand, Norfolk State University (MEAC) SG 6'5
7.Asanti Price, Benedict College (SIAC) SG 6'5
8.Christian Wells, LeMoyne-Owen College (SIAC) SF 6'5
9.Tedrick Wilcox Jr., Hampton University (INDEP) SF 6'6
10. Seth Towns, Howard University (MEAC) SF/PF 6'9
11.Jordan Simpson, Albany State University (SIAC) PF/C 6'9
12.Jason Jitoboh, Tennessee State University (INDEP) C 6'11
Coaches: Levelle Moton - Head Men's Basketball Coach at North Carolina Central University; Alfred Jordan, Head Men's Basketball Coach at Clark Atlanta University

Team Ben Wallace (SWAC & CIAA HBCU All-Stars)
1.PJ Henry, Texas Southern University (SWAC) PG 5'10
2.Dhashon Dyson, Bethune-Cookman University (SWAC) CG 6'1
3.Brandon Davis, Southern University (SWAC) CG 6'1
4.Rashad Williams, Univ. Arkansas at Pine Bluff (SWAC) SG 6'2
5.Tra'Michael Moton, Grambling State University (SWAC) SG 6'2
6.Jaylen Alston, Winston-Salem State University (CIAA) SF 6'4
7.Tre Richardson, Elizabeth City State University (CIAA) SF 6'4
8.Charles Smith, Prairie View A&M University (SWAC) SG 6'5
9.Rayquan Brown, Mississippi Valley State University (SWAC) SG 6'6
10.Jordan O'Neal, Jackson State University (SWAC) PF 6'7
11.Jeremiah Kendall, Alcorn State University (SWAC) PF 6'7
12.Jourdan Smith, Grambling State University (SWAC) PF 6'7
Coaches: Johnny Jones, Head Men's Basketball Coach at Texas Southern University; Jason Armstrong, Head Men's Basketball Coach at Lincoln University (PA)

Beyond the Bracket, The HBCU All-Star Game, Lights Up, Final Four Weekend


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