Makur Maker became the highest ranked basketball recruit to sign with an HBCU since 2007

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As the 4th of July marked a celebratory day of respite from the monotony we've grown accustomed to during the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of men's College Basketball was watching the fallout from the fireworks that Makur Maker set off on the eve of the national holiday.

On July 3, Maker, the nation's 18th ranked recruiting prospect (Rivals.com) verbally committed to the HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) Howard University in Washington, D.C.—instead of a traditional basketball powerhouse such as UCLA or Kentucky. Maker will be the highest ranked basketball recruit, and only five star recruit, to sign on with an HBCU since the recruiting database was created by ESPN in 2007.

While Maker isn't the only top recruit in recent time to discuss playing for an HBCU, he is the only one that has actually gone as far as to commit to one. Trace Young was a three star recruit coming out of high school and played for Wyoming University his freshman year. Young decided to transfer to an HBCU, and in May announced he would be transferring to Alabama State University, one of six HBCU's he narrowed his choices down to.


Traditionally, since the inception of the one and done rule in 2006, we have seen top high school recruits attend power conference programs led by high profile coaches that are more synonymous with their schools' identity than any of its players. Since players are required to be 19 years old and a year removed from their high school graduation date in order to be draft eligible for the NBA, American high school prospects have typically taken the route of playing for the colleges that offered high visibility and exposure to improve their draft stock.

This process has kept schools like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan State flush with the nation's top talent for decades as they have the bravado of being home to coaching icons with NBA connections the likes of Mike Kryzyewski, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Tom Izzo, and the notorious John Calipari. Calipari was one of the pioneers in one and done recruiting as he learned to leverage it as a recruiting tactic by selling Kentucky as a one year boot camp to prepare top prospects for the NBA. While Calipari didn't earn a lot of friends or supporters from this approach, it would be one that every major program would have to learn to adopt in order to continue landing top recruits.

John Calipari John Calipari

Maker's choice to commit to an HBCU shows yet another path for top basketball recruits to take now to circumvent the still standing one and done rule. By expanding the developmental G-League to allow for high school seniors to choose to play and get paid upon graduating, shows an understanding that some of these athletes are ready to compete at the NBA level and that playing for a college for one season isn't in their best interest. Other players have gone overseas to play professionally where they can earn more than what they would make in the G-League and also get to play against an increasingly talented number of leagues across the world before getting to the NBA.

As long as the one and done rule stays in place, or some iteration of it, the best basketball recruits will still play somewhere and I still believe that will largely be at the collegiate level for many of the same programs we've grown accustomed to seeing in March. But if Maker becomes the first in a new line of top recruits wanting to represent HBCUs, it could open up a new wave of power programs in the college sports landscape.

One of the great things about the coverage that college sports brings to colleges and universities is learning about their history and some of the great things that the school and its alumni have accomplished. There are great stories to be told from all of these institutions and it would be even better if more schools were able to be highlighted. Unfortunately, sports provide the biggest platform for that level of exposure and HBCUs have not been able to recruit top players because their programs have been able to compete and the exposure would be too small.

But if Maker's decision can affect someone like Mikey Williams who is the top recruit in the 2023 high school class to attend an HBCU, then we can start to talk about the logistics of increasing Burr Gymnasium's seating capacity by 15,000 seats overnight.

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It would be great to get more representation from historically black colleges and universities in this country. As we talk more about social injustices and the need to fix certain things societally, college campuses across the country have always been a breeding ground for progressive thought and enacting change. In a time where racial injustice has been trending worldwide it seems as though student athletes have begun to understand that they hold more power than what they've been led to believe all these years, and that they can enact the changes they want to see with their actions.

The NBA has been one of the more progressive leagues in American sports in terms of looking outside of the U.S. borders for its talent. By embracing the global market the NBA has gained fans and viewers overseas, and has resulted in talent from all over the world being represented on NBA rosters today. The aforementioned expansion of the NBA run G-League shows that they're open to players taking alternative routes to get to the NBA level. HBCUs represent the same path to the professional level as Kentucky or Duke but the difference for black high school athletes is what it could mean for them to represent a school that celebrates black culture and that the opportunity to be stewards of a new era that can see HBCUs continue to grow in size and influence. Let's face it, if Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish had committed to Morehouse rather than Duke, we all would've tuned in just the same to witness the spectacle.

Only time will tell if more black athletes will choose HBCUs to play out their collegiate careers before heading to the pro ranks. But as the nation continues the conversation surrounding systemic racism, this opportunity for high profile athletes to shed light on black culture serves as an interesting mechanism to add to the Black Lives Matter Movement by mobilizing and empowering new voices to be heard from the generation that will be tasked with changing the narrative of a nation.

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
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After three consecutive victories, the Golden State Warriors conceded Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. In Game 5, the Warriors will look to close out Luka Doncic and the Mavs in front of the home crowd. As a team, the Warriors were efficient from the field, converting 48.8% of their shots taken. One of the main reasons Golden State lost was a result of poor free-throw shooting. The Warriors missed nine of their 27 free throws on Tuesday night (65.4 FT%). In comparison, the Mavericks were full-throttle in Game 4 facing elimination. Dallas’ Reggie Bullock (18 PTS) and Dorian Finney Smith (23 PTS) combined for 42 points, adding to Luka’s 30.

Ultimately, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 lead in the playoffs, meaning that the Warriors will almost certainly be heading back to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at what the best bets are for tonight’s Game 5.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 2:00 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Bet #1: Dallas Mavericks, +6.5 (-110)

We like Dallas to keep it close. Perhaps Dallas has a 10-point lead going into the third quarter which the Warriors could then overtake in the second half. Regardless of the scenario, the Mavericks won against a Warriors team that still put up 109 points in Game 4 on close to 50% shooting from the field. Dallas shot above 50% from the field in Game 4 and took many shots to get there just like they did in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Phoenix Suns. Even Jalen Brunson said in the post-game interview with the guys from Inside the NBA that his team needs to "take it one game at a time (...) like four Game 7s."

While the Warriors are in it to win it tonight, the Mavericks seem to perform best when facing elimination this 2022 postseason. While they might lose tonight, the Mavericks seem to play well under pressure. As a result, take them +7 tonight as the Warriors will have a bigger challenge on their hands than they anticipate.

Bet #2: Over 215.5 Total Points (-110)

In two of the series’ four games, both teams combined for at least 220 points. In Game 2, 243 points were scored while in Game 4, there were 228 points tallied. The Mavericks shoot more when facing elimination. This has been a trend we have seen throughout the postseason. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis, the Mavericks scored 123 points while in Game 4 against the Warriors on Tuesday, Dallas scored 119 points. Not much more needs to be said about the Warriors’ high-power offense that will likely outscore Dallas regardless of how many points they get on the board.

NBA Player Props of the Night

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)

Prop #1: Dorian Finney-Smith Over 11.5 Points

Dorian Finney-Smith erupted for 23 points in Game 4 to help the Mavericks rally past the Warriors. Throughout the 2022 playoffs, he’s averaged 11.6 PPG shooting 46.5% from the field. He’s also seeing 38.2 minutes per contest this postseason. Expect Finney-Smith to score at least 12 points tonight after his 23-points in Game 4.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 18.5 Points

Klay Thompson was held to 12 points scored in Game 4. Despite going 5-of-10 from the field, Klay was limited by Dallas on defense in 28 minutes on the floor on Tuesday night. He should definitely be taking more shots tonight and perform better overall being back home for a Game 5. Thompson should easily hit at least 20+ points tonight, and take a handful more shots from the field in this contest than in Tuesday’s.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

Getty Images

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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