It’s quite proven that HBCUs brings flavor and extra entertainment to a typical gameday experience. More broadly, HBCUs are either understood or misunderstood. Between being underfunded and sometimes overlooked, the HBCU experience is somewhat different than the glitz and glamor from major institutions.
Despite that, the higher-caliber programs have their perks, even within men’s college basketball. So this begs the question: What are the top five HBCU coaching gigs?
Based on several factors — ranging from location, to exposure, to simply winning — here are the top HBCU men’s basketball coaching gigs, presented in no particular order.
Reasons: Exposure Games, Region, Conference Dominance
Since the 2009-10 season, Texas Southern has not had a conference winning percentage lower than 61%. In more basic terms, they have owned the SWAC this past decade, regardless of if they make the NCAA Tournament or not.
In terms of the tournament, they’ve been four out of the last six seasons. That’s intriguing, a program that’s consistently been close or in the NCAA Tournament through their conference’s automatic bid.
Even before the conference slate starts, the Tigers are exposed to high-major opponents. In the past four seasons alone they’ve faced the likes of Syracuse, Baylor, Creighton, Arizona, Louisville, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Oregon, Iowa State and Texas A&M, amongst others.
What’s even more amazing is that the Tigers played close in a lot of those games. And in addition to that, the TSU campus is basically in the heart of Houston — thus boosting their local exposure.
So why is TSU a good place to coach? The program is in a buzzing city, their schedule gives them national exposure and there’s been a lot of postseason basketball over the past decade between the NCAA Tournament, NIT or CBI.
Reasons: Winning, Player Development, Competitive Region
NC Central is similar to Texas Southern in terms of winning. They own the MEAC. They have also seen four NCAA Tournament appearances within the past six seasons.
What’s crazy about their success is that prior to 2011, NC Central was in Division II. It took less than a decade for the Eagles program to become a dominant force in their conference. So dominant, that other schools tend to steer away from scheduling the Eagles during non-conference play.
With great credit to current coach LeVelle Moton, the Eagles program is great at developing players. For long periods of winning, it takes player investment and development on the court to keep up with it.
What also makes this intriguing is that North Carolina has 18 D1 basketball programs scattered across the state. This means that there are more rivalries and also more intensity to be the best in the state. North Carolina loves basketball, and having a good program will have the eyes of recruits and fans on you.
And, quite frankly, outside of Duke and UNC (and maybe Campbell), NC Central has had the most dominant stretch of recent seasons compared to other teams within the state.
Reasons: Consistency of Winning, School Location
For 21 straight seasons, Norfolk State has not had a losing record in conference play. Let that sink in. For two decades they’ve won a majority of their conference matchups and even some non-conference ones as well.
NSU’s dominance is apart of a successful legacy of winning consistently even before the program elevated to Division I in the late 90s. The program has sent almost 30 players to play professionally across the globe. They have established themselves a respectable brand within the Hampton Roads region but on a broader level as well.
Let’s talk about the region. Norfolk State is in the Hampton Roads area, which has a lot of recruits. Outside of that, NSU is in a perfect location. It’s between the northeastern states and southern states. This means that there’s flexibility in terms of recruitment.
Overall, the work that Anthony Evans and now Robert Jones has put in turned this NSU coaching job into one of the better HBCU basketball gigs.
North Carolina A&T
Reasons: Brand Exposure, School Progression
North Carolina A&T’s athletic dominance is noted right now. They’ve sent various players to the NFL. Their track program has broken records lately, and their overall fan engagement across sports is probably the best compared to other HBCUs. As a school, North Carolina A&T is now the largest public HBCU in the nation; it also ranked first in that category as well.
So what does this have to do with basketball? A&T’s brand and reach are strong. The school’s growth will correlate into cheering fans and an overall dedicated fanbase.
On the court, however, the Aggies are getting back to their old ways. They are 24-8 in MEAC play within the last two seasons. Their increased level of play has been the best since the Aggie went to eight NCAA Tournaments between 1981 and 1994.
Although athletic factors matter, an institution’s progression and public perception play a huge role in a potential coaching platform. Besides, have you seen the Corbett Sports Center aka “Club Corbett” or the Dawg Pound? It’s quite the home-court advantage.
Reasons: Strong Alumni Base, Closeness to major recruits
Howard’s role on this list really pertains to the regional perks and institutional legacy. To most, Howard has a very historical legacy within the context of HBCUs. It might not be everyone’s favorite but HU’s alumni base and national reach cannot be debated. So for a potential coach, you’re walking into that place that people take pride in the legacy and its future.
On the court, recruiting would not be an issue due to the abundance of recruits in the Washington, DC Metro area. From various polls, DC and Maryland rank the highest in terms of percentages of players that are recruited to play D1.
Overall, Howard is really a perfect place to sharpen coaching skills as well as producing players.
Reasons: New Conference, Consistency of Winning, Strong Leadership
Reasons: Closeness to major recruits, Competitive Region
Reasons: Facilities, Region