We’re within the thick of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors.
But most may not know that each teams have historic ties to HBCU players and coaches.
In 1950, the Celtics became the primary team to choose an African American player within the NBA Draft choosing West Virginia State guard Chuck Cooper.
Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T star Al Attles is the Warriors’ all-time leader in wins for a head coach, holding 1,075 victories with the franchise. He also led the team to its first championship in 1975 after moving to San Francisco.
It’s not only these two teams which have ties to HBCUs because the league has seen its justifiable share of great players from Black institutions.
Currently, there are three former HBCU players on the NBA’s seventy fifth anniversary team and 10 within the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
This got us considering: How would a team of the very best HBCU alums in NBA history stack up against one another?
We put together a 12-man team with a standard starting lineup and a bench consisting of two guards, two forwards, two centers, and a wild card.
PG: Earl Monroe, Winston-Salem State
When discussing the best basketball players to return from a historically black college, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe’s name will certainly be mentioned.
Playing for Winston-Salem State, Monroe has the excellence of being the varsity’s all-time leading scorer.
As a senior, he averaged 41.5 points per game leading the Rams to a Division II national title, the primary for an HBCU on the time.
Monroe was taken second overall within the 1967 draft by the Washington Bullets, making him still the highest-ever HBCU player. He later won the Rookie of the Yr, averaging 24.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
Monroe played 13 seasons within the NBA with the Bullets and Recent York Knicks, averaging 18.8 points, 3.9 assists and three rebounds.
He was named to 4 NBA All-Star teams and won a championship in 1973 with the Knicks. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990 and is a member of the NBA’s seventy fifth anniversary team.
SG: Sam Jones, North Carolina Central
One other member of the NBA’s seventy fifth Anniversary team, Sam Jones played for a North Carolina Central team under Hall of Fame head coach John McLendon.
There, he averaged 17.7 points and 9.1 rebounds securing three All-CIAA team selections.
Within the NBA, Jones played 12 seasons with the Celtics — the primary true dynasty within the league’s history led by Hall of Fame center Bill Russell.
He averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 871 profession games winning 10 NBA championships second only to Russell.
As well as, Jones was named to 5 All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams on his technique to being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
SF: Bob Dandridge, Norfolk State
Bob Dandridge averaged 22.6 points and 13.0 rebounds in his 4 years at Norfolk State leading the team to an overall record of 88-16.
As a junior, he helped lead the Spartans to a CIAA championship. In his senior yr, he set CIAA tournament records for points in a game (50) and points in a conference tournament (114).
Dandridge entered the NBA as a fourth-round pick by the Milwaukee Bucks within the 1969 draft.
The previous Spartan played 13 seasons with the Bucks and Washington Bullets, respectively winning an NBA championship with each team. The four-time NBA All-Star averaged 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and three.4 assists for his profession.
PF: Bob Love, Southern
In his time twiddling with Southern, Bob Love was a three-time All-SWAC selection and a one-time NAIA All-American.
In his final season with the Jaguars, he led the team to their first SWAC championship at school history.
Starting his NBA profession with the Cincinnati Royals, Love later made a reputation for himself as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
Love went on to average 21.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in his eight seasons within the league
Overall, Love played within the NBA for 11 years. He was named an NBA All-Star thrice, appeared on three NBA All-Defensive teams and two All-NBA team selections.
C: Willis Reed, Grambling State
Arguably probably the most achieved HBCU player within the NBA, Willis Reed was a two-time All-American at Grambling State.
He averaged 18.7 points and 15.2 rebounds leading the Tigers to 2 SWAC championships and an NAIA national championship.
Within the 1964 NBA Draft, Reed was taken with the primary pick of the second round by the Recent York Knicks with whom he spent his entire 10-year profession.
He averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds for his profession leading his team to 2 NBA championships. He also secured seven All-Star selections and five All-NBA selections.
Reed became the primary player in NBA history to win the All-Star MVP, regular season MVP and NBA Finals MVP all in the identical season (only Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal) have achieved this feat since).
The Grambling big man became the primary HBCU alum to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.
G: Avery Johnson, Southern
Avery Johnson’s college profession began on the JUCO level at Recent Mexico Junior College before moving on to Cameron University after which finally at Southern.
Johnson averaged 9.2 points, 12 assists and three.1 steals in his two seasons with the Jaguars, being named SWAC Player of the Yr annually.
He entered the NBA in 1988 as an undrafted free agent signing with the Seattle Supersonics.
The Jaguar guard played the vast majority of his profession with the San Antonio Spurs averaging 10.1 points and 6.9 assists in his 10 years there. It was with the Spurs that Johnson won his lone championship in 1999.
G: Jimmy Jones, Grambling State
Although Jimmy Jones had his best run in the professionals within the ABA, he did play three seasons within the NBA at the tip of his profession.
During his time with Grambling State, Jones led the team to a few SWAC championships while posting 20 points and eight rebounds per game.
Although the Tigers’ guard was drafted with the primary pick within the second round of the 1967 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets, he opted as an alternative to play within the ABA.
Jones played seven seasons within the ABA with the Recent Orleans Buccaneers, Memphis Pros and Utah Stars. He averaged 19.2 points, 5.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds making six All-Star teams and three All-ABA teams along with being on the ABA’s All-Time team.
He then moved on to the NBA playing three seasons with the Washington Bullets, primarily as a backup point guard.
F: Anthony Mason, Tennessee State
Anthony Mason played for Tennessee State at a time after they were transitioning from independent to the Ohio Valley Conference.
He averaged 18.7 points and eight.1 rebounds for the Tigers. This included a senior season by which he led the OVC in scoring and third overall within the country (28.0) while also leading the OVC in rebounding (10.4).
Mason was drafted within the third round of the 1988 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Nonetheless, he began his pro profession playing in Turkey before joining the NBA a yr later with Recent Jersey Nets.
The Tennessee State forward played 13 years within the NBA for six different teams compiling 10.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and three.4 assists for his profession.
He was named to an All-Star team in 2001, an All-NBA team and All-Defensive team in 1997 and won the Sixth Man of the Yr award in 1995.
F: Charles Oakley, Virginia Union
Charles Oakley is one of the well-known enforcers players to ever step foot on an NBA court.
He led the team to a CIAA championship as a senior in a season that saw him be named Division II Player of the Yr.
Entering the NBA, Oakley was drafted ninth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers before being traded to the Chicago Bulls that very same night.
The large man played a whopping 19 years within the league, averaging 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds for his profession.
Oakley was named to an All-Star team and to 2 All-Defensive teams as a member of the Recent York Knicks.
C: Ben Wallace, Virginia Union
One other Virginia Union big man, Ben Wallace, played two years with the Panthers averaging 13.4 points, 10 rebounds and three.6 blocks.
He led the Panthers to the Sweet 16 of the Division II tournament in his junior season and to the Final 4 as a senior.
Entering the NBA as an undrafted free agent, Wallace went on to have one of the successful careers of any undrafted player.
In 16 years within the NBA, Wallace averaged 5.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals.
He dominated on the defense winning 4 Defensive Player of the Yr awards and was chosen to 6 All-Defensive teams. He won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
As well as, Wallace was a four-time NBA All-Star and made five All-NBA teams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.
C: Zelmo Beaty, Prairie View A&M
Zelmo Beaty is one of the underrated big men in NBA/ABA history.
Beaty was dominant in his time with Prairie View, averaging 25 points and 20 rebounds per game en path to securing two NAIA All-American selections.
He led the Panthers to 2 SWAC championships and an NAIA national championship as a senior.
He entered the NBA because the third overall pick within the 1962 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks, making him the primary HBCU player to be taken with a top three pick.
Beaty, who was a two-time NBA All-Star, played seven of his eight NBA seasons with the Hawks, averaging 16 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
The Prairie View star then played 4 years within the ABA with the Utah Stars. He was named to a few All-Star teams, two All-ABA teams and won an ABA championship. Beaty was also chosen to the ABA All-Time team.
WC: Truck Robinson, Tennessee State
In Tennessee State’s time within the Division II ranks, that they had their most successful run with Leonard “Truck” Robinson on the ground.
Within the Division II playoffs, Robinson led the team to the national championship game and two third place games. His numbers were off the charts in his final two seasons, averaging 24.4 points and 16.8 rebounds.
Robinson then entered the NBA as a second-round pick within the 1974 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets.
He played 11 seasons within the NBA tallying 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds for his profession. He was also named to 2 NBA All-Star teams. His best stint got here in his two seasons with the Recent Orleans Jazz where he averaged 23.2 points and 14.9 rebounds.