Why Mikey Williams is considering an HBCU, a move that could shake up college basketball Jeff EisenbergandKrysten Peek At 10:21 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the nation’s best 15-year-old basketball player sent out an eight-word tweet with potentially seismic implications. “Going to an HBCU wouldn’t be too bad…” Mikey Williams wrote. Instead of turning pro after high school or spending one year at a perennial college powerhouse, Williams signaled that he’s interested in an unexplored path. He plans to consider historically black colleges and universities that are never destinations for one-and-done prospects like him. While it would be unprecedented for a player to snub the likes of Kansas or UCLA for an HBCU, Williams argues that name-brand college programs aren’t the only stepping stones to the NBA. “If you’re a pro, [then] you’re a pro no matter what college you go to,” Williams wrote Wednesday in an Instagram post elaborating on his interest in HBCUs. What makes going to an HBCU appealing to Williams is that the revenue he generates during his college career would stay within the black community. He says multiple HBCUs will make the cut next time he narrows the list of colleges he is considering. “And,” he adds, “they won’t just be there for show.” “I AM RIDING FOR MY PEOPLE!” Williams wrote. “I’M 10 TOES BEHIND THE BLACK COMMUNITY! Any way I can help or make a change in the black community, best believe I am going to do that.” Interest from the nation’s top-ranked rising sophomore came as a welcome surprise to HBCU coaches across the country. Within minutes, coaches who previously viewed Williams as unattainable suddenly began bombarding his AAU coach with calls and texts. Tennessee State offered Williams a scholarship on Tuesday without seeing him play in person. Norfolk State and Texas Southern did the same. By Wednesday afternoon, the dynamic 6-foot-2 guard had piled up offers from about a dozen HBCU programs. “I don't think any schools thought seriously about offering him until he posted that tweet,” Etop Udo-Uma, the coach of the talent-rich Compton Magic AAU team, told Yahoo Sports. “Within two hours he had more HBCU offers than any kid I've ever coached.” any of their schools. They’re hoping to find a trailblazer whose bold choice to come to an HBCU could inspire other elite prospects to buck conventional wisdom and do the same." data-reactid="26">While a talent like Williams would instantly elevate whatever college he chooses, some HBCU coaches insist they would be happy if he picks any of their schools. They’re hoping to find a trailblazer whose bold choice to come to an HBCU could inspire other elite prospects to buck conventional wisdom and do the same. For decades, predominantly white institutions have raked in revenue in part because of the achievements of black athletes. Someone like Williams could demonstrate that black athletes can generate money and exposure for HBCUs without sacrificing their pursuit of a pro career to do it. “Honestly, all that it would take is one top-25 kid coming to an HBCU, being successful and going on to play in the NBA,” Norfolk State coach Robert Jones told Yahoo Sports. “Then a lot of other kids would follow. It would change everything.” Mikey Williams took part in the Pangos All-American Camp last summer. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) The history of HBCUs Before the desegregation of college sports in the South, it once was common for top black athletes to attend predominantly black colleges. HBCUs produced many of the nation’s best-known athletes, from Tennessee State’s Wilma Rudolph, to Florida A&M’s Bob Hayes, to Grambling State’s Willis Reed, to Winston-Salem State’s Earl “the Pearl” Monroe. By the end of the civil rights movement, even the most stubborn Deep South coaches knew they needed to integrate to remain competitive. Majority-white institutions began siphoning away much of the South’s top black talent, positioning those schools to cash in when college sports evolved into a big-dollar business and pushing HBCUs further and further behind. Consider Grambling State, home of maybe the most storied HBCU football program. In 2013 players staged a boycott and forfeited a game in protest of the school’s crumbling facilities, long bus trips to road games and frequent coaching changes.