HBCU ballers to keep an eye on this season
These men and women could lead their teams to postseason glory
Winter is coming, which means college basketball is starting to heat up. Fans will undoubtedly be watching performances from potential standouts such as Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham from the University of Kansas. But don’t sleep on the hoops stars from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who are also looking to lead their respective teams to conference championships and a spot in the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments.
Top returning men’s players
Tiwian Kendley, 6-5, 190 pounds, senior guard, Morgan State
Kendley averaged 21.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in the 2016-17 season. The Harlem, New York, native made the All-MEAC first team and was selected as the MEAC player of the week twice last season. Kendley could be the prolific scorer that the Bears need to get over the hump and grab the MEAC title.
Brandon Tabb, 6-4, 180 pounds, senior guard, Bethune-Cookman
Tabb averaged 17.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. He also led the Wildcats in both total points and total rebounds. The guard from Hampton, Virginia, earned MEAC player of the week last season and was a second-team All-MEAC selection and a preseason first-team member this year. As a senior, he will be looking to lead Bethune-Cookman to a successful season in his final campaign this year.
Zaynah Robinson, 5-11, 180 pounds, senior guard, Norfolk State
Robinson was a second-team All-MEAC selection in 2016-17. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game as a junior. Robinson was also placed on the MEAC All-Tournament team after helping engineer the Spartans’ surprise appearance in the MEAC championship against North Carolina Central. Robinson will be looking to take the Spartans at least one step further as a senior.
Demontrae Jefferson, 5-7, 150 pounds, sophomore guard, Texas Southern
Jefferson was selected as the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) freshman of the year in 2016-17. In his first two games of this season, Jefferson is averaging 21.0 points and 3.5 assists per game. The diminutive guard uses stellar handles and supreme quickness to make defenders look silly. He will be looking to build on his freshman year and bring the Tigers back-to-back SWAC titles.
Kevin Scott, 6-4, 205 pounds, senior guard, Texas Southern
Scott was a second-team All-SWAC selection last season as a junior. Now early in his senior campaign, Scott is averaging 15.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He played an integral part in the Tigers’ championship run last season and will look to repeat that success this season for another chance to play in the NCAA tournament.
Reginal Johnson, 6-5, 250 pounds, senior forward, Alcorn State
Johnson was an All-SWAC second-team selection last year and a two-time SWAC player of the week last season. After averaging 16 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in conference play, the forward from Monroe, Louisiana, is looking to become a dominant force in SWAC competition.
Top returning women’s players
Fans of women’s college basketball will undoubtedly be focusing on performances from potential standouts such as A’ja Wilson from South Carolina, Kelsey Mitchell from Ohio State and Gabby Williams from Connecticut this season. However, don’t sleep on these top players.
Genesis Lucas, 5-7, redshirt senior guard, Coppin State
Lucas was selected to the All-MEAC first team last season. The Brandywine, Maryland, native averaged 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in the 2016-17 season. Lucas aspires to lead the Eagles to a MEAC crown this season.
Kayla Roberts, 6-1, senior guard/forward, Norfolk State
Roberts averaged 12.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.97 blocks per game as a junior. The Miami native was a first-team All-MEAC selection in 2016-17 and led the MEAC in defensive rebounds with 6.5 per game. In her senior campaign, she will be looking to lead the Spartans to a MEAC title.
NaJai Pollard, 5-11, junior forward, Delaware State
Pollard was an All-MEAC first-team selection for the 2016-17 season. Pollard was the MEAC’s scoring leader with 18.6 points per game and the MEAC rebounding leader with 9.8 rebounds per contest while also leading the MEAC in field goal percentage (.537). Pollard was the preseason selection for the 2017-18 MEAC player of the year.
Shakyla Hill, 5-7, junior guard, Grambling State
The native of Little Rock, Arkansas, earned a first-team All-SWAC selection after her stellar performance in the 2016-17 season. Hill is averaging 12.4 points and 5.8 assists per game on the early season.
Joyce Kennerson, 5-4, junior guard, Texas Southern
Kennerson averaged 18.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.06 assists per game in 2016-17. Kennerson earned a spot as a first-team All-SWAC performer in her sophomore campaign.
Briana Green, 5-11, senior forward, Southern
Green is a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native and was an All-SWAC first-team selection in 2016-17. Green was also named to the preseason All-SWAC first team before the start of this season. Green and the Jaguars will be looking to improve on their semifinal finish last season and grab the coveted SWAC title.