HBCU BASKETBALL SHOWCASE GIVES UNSIGNED SENIORS, JUCO ATHLETES FINAL SHOT

Edward Williams

HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS, JUNIORS AND JUCO EARNED OFFERS ON-THE-SPOT




LYNWOOD, CALIF.—The smile on Roy Clarke’s face said everything. The former Fremont High and West LA City College athlete was absolutely elated. 

  Nearly three years ago, the Brooklyn, New York native moved to Southern California to play basketball and for a better opportunity in life. Well, Sunday evening, he received a better shot at one as he stood in atrium— at the door entrance of gymnasium— next to assistant coach Nathan Sheffield from Miles College.

  By the time they concluded their conversation, the 6-foot-4 guard had received an athletic scholarship offer to compete for the NCAA II college from Fairfield, Alabama.

  Nearly 30 minutes before, Clarke had put on a MVP performance — against awesome talent during the HBCU Top 20 All-Star Showcase— in front of a plethora NCAA and NAIA  Div. I, II, III and national JUCOS coaches at the 4th annual HBCU boys basketball showcase at Lynwood High. 

   Clarke, who was asked to bring his academic transcript, could vary well be one of many athletes who competed at the two-day event, to receive offers on-the-spot over the weekend or in the upcoming months. 

  “I just received an offer from Miles College. I feel blessed. I am going to keep working hard to get more,’’ said Clarke.  “I just came out here to show that I’m a versatile guard. I can do a lot on the floor to help a team at the next-level.’’ 

  The day before, Raymond Reece, a 6-foot-5 combo forward, drove through traffic to throw down an unexpected thunderous dunk over several defenders. That woke up coaches, athletes and spectators. 

  At that moment, he definitely won some of the coaches over. Several of them stopped him to conduct conversations once the game ended. Later, he was selected to compete in the all-star game. Earlier, Reece, who plays for Eastside College Prep High in Palo Alto, California, said Cheney University of Pennsylvania, had shown some interest.

  ”I don’t look to score first. I always get my teammates involved,'' he said. "I am a defensive guy. I can score if I need to score. I love rebounding. I love stealing the ball. I love getting my teammates involved. I have been doing this like since junior high. I am a ball-handler. If I get it, I’ll surely push it,’’ he continued.  “This showcase is a big opportunity for specially due to the pandemic. It’s given coaches a second-chance to look at me. I am very thankful for that." 

  Reece, who was a standout player of the all-star game, told, Dr. Theresa Price, during a brief interview, that he aspired to compete at the next level and earn a degree.  

  Price is the Founder of National College Resources Foundation, a nonprofit which conducted the showcases and Black Expo. 

  “Young men and young women have an opportunity to get recruited on the spot,’’ she said. “I am just excited because this has always been a passion of mine, to have athletes have the opportunity to meet HBCU coaches up-close and personal, get opportunities to play at the next level.’’

   Since it’s inception, in  2019, HBCU showcases have helped over 900 student-athletes earned over 50 million dollars of athletic scholarship money. 

Jamal Edmonson, from Charleston, South Carolina -- who entered the transfer portal after competing for  NCAA Div. II Frances Marion College --came to the event seeking an opportunity to get an offer from a Div. I or II either on the West Coast or South East. 

  On day one, the former Ashley Ridge High star and former All-Region class V-A player of the year -- one of a few ever to score 3,000 points state prep history-- exchanged information with a coach from Albany State, an university in Georgia. He was invited to visit the campus and work out for them later this year. “I just picked up Albany State,’’ said the 6-foot-4 guard. “I am the Andrew Wiggins type of guard, very versatile. I love to shoot, pass and get my teammates involved.’’

  He said he will justing to keep working hard to get better in hopes of receiving more opportunities. “It’s all in God’s hands,’’ he said.

  Levelle Jeigler, a 6-foot-2 athlete who competed for Chicago State in 2021 and who is currently in the transfer portal, put on a point-guard clinic, managing the floor, finding teammates for jumpers and layups on breaks. The Oakland California native, who played JUCO ball at East LA College, knocked down jumpers from the arc, dribbled through traffic inside the lane for mid-range shots, and stole the ball for second-chance points. Defenders were on him like white-on-rice but they couldn’t dislodge the basketball from him.  “I just came out here to compete and hopefully pick up another scholarship,’’ said Jeigler, who also said he came to the event because hasn’t received any interest from recruiters. For the former Cougar,, an athlete who starred in the Netflix documentary “Last Chance U’’, is currently living in North Carolina. He flew into town to compete for athletic scholarship. At Chicago State, he averaged 10.9 points, 13 boards and 2.4 assists per game. 

   Dennis Johnson, who attends Cerritos College and who starred at Compton High in 2019, received interest from Vanguard University and a couple more NAIA schools in his senior year.  On Saturday, he showed he can compete with the talented field, as did former Lynwood High and Lamar JC College 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Joshua Jones Jr. Both Johnson and Jones Jr. made the cut to play in the HBCU Top 20 All-Star Showcase.

  Brandon Kuy, a 5-foot-10 point guard who completed his high school basketball career at Kaiser High in 2020, said he didn’t compete after graduation. He tallied 9.3 points per game, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals during his final campaign. 

  “This showcase is a good opportunity to get coaches looking at me right now,’’ Kuy said. “It’s a good opportunity for everyone. It’s just a blessing. Hopefully, some coaches will like how I play. I can’t ask for a better opportunity.

  Jordan Ward, a 6-foot-4 junior swingman from Pomona High, led his team to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Div. IV-A Playoffs. The All-Miramonte League top performer averaged 12.2 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the floor. :He also average 6.7 rebounds per game. “It was definitely a blessing seeing all the college coaches watching me and I being able to showcase what I do. (For me), it was about exposure. I have one more year to develop my game and to work to get that scholarship.’’

  Niles Alredge, a 5-foot-7 point guard who played for Lawndale High in 2019, said he just wants to take his talents to the next level. “I think it’s truly an amazing experience for everybody who didn’t get a chance to go anywhere (to compete for universities). They can showcase their talents to all the coaches from HBCUs,’’ he said. “I am truly thankful for the opportunity for sure.’’

  Amar Kadic, a 6-foot-9 center/power forward who competes for the Cooper Academy Prep school. Kadic, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, said basketball there is a developing sport, second to soccer. He left because he felt he would get a better opportunity to train, develop and get a scholarship to play at the next level in the United States.

  “I have been here for only three months,’’ Kadic said.  “I am grateful for the opportunity to get (some exposure to college coaches) and show (them) what I can do. Hopefully, I'll get some good looks from college coaches. 

   “I have been watching college basketball since I was 14,’’ he continued. “It has always been very interesting to me. I thought that coming here would give me a great opportunity for a college scholarship. I also wanted to travel the world a little bit. I am trying to put myself on the map, show coaches what I can do. I am just grateful for the opportunity.’’

   Andre Wright, a 6-foot-4 forward who never played high school basketball or football, said,  “The competition is good. I’ve seen some big dudes up in here. I have a lot more muscle than a lot of them.  

 “A lot of people wish they could be in this spot. I have to thank God, give Him the glory,'' he said after he was asked about being able to compete for an athletic scholarship in front of HBCU college coaches.  "I have been working hard. Naturally, I’m a football player. It took me a while to (develop my skills to compete in basketball at a higher level). It was a grind. It was a grind.’’  This past season, he averaged a double, double at a JUCO.

  Joshua Jones Jr., a former 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Lynwood High, Cal State Fullerton and Lamar Community College in Colorado, delivered clutch shots and went skyward for dunks, block shots and rebounds at the showcase. "It was a fun environment. It was a lot of good players. It was competitive,'' he said. "I had fun today." 

  Eric Wright, a guard who competed as a freshman at San Bernardino Valley College,  “I definitely came here to showcase my talents and get a scholarship. It’s a big part of my life. I’ll go anywhere  someone would be glad to have me,’’ said the 6-foot-3 combo guard, who dazzled the crowd with

a sharp-shooter's touch from the arch in the HBCU Top 20 Game.  

  “It’s amazing. I really love that kids will know where they are going to go, just having the opportunity to be seen and get into college,’’ said Tyus Edney, a former NBA player and UCLA star point guard who served as an ambassador of the showcases. “This is about giving kids opportunities to be successful in life.’’



   

      HBCU TOP 20


Kevin Bradley

Roy Clarke

DaiJohn Steward

Elijah Charles

Raymond Reece

Nehemiah Johnson

Adetominiyl Adesiji

Lonzo Quiroz

D.J. Gilmore

Jackson Hopps

Jon Sanders

Brandon Johnson

Lee Hubbard III

Sam Ibeh

Level Zeigler

Jeffrey Langston

Davin Davis

Joshua Jones Jr.

L.J. McClain

Devean Willis

Christian Johnson

Uriyah Rojas

Gary Harris

Kalique Mitchell

Eric Wright

Zach Jefferson

Dennis Johnson