Kyle O’Quinn and Robert Covington are flying the flag for HBCU alums in the NBA due to their exploits on the court for the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets respectively. However, there is a dearth of talent to emerge from the ranks, with the duo representing HBCU schools alone in the league, having played their college ball at Norfolk State and Tennessee State. Both players are key components of their respective sides and should not be going anywhere soon.
At the age of 30, O’Quinn is representing his fourth team in the Sixers, while Covington has made the journey back to where his career started in Houston. Neither man has won the NBA Championship, although Covington appears to be in a good place with the Rockets, being backed in the NBA betting on bet365 at +2200 win the title in the 2020/21 campaign.
Covington has had his moments in the NBA, being named in the All-Defensive First-Team in 2018. However, we’re waiting to see where the next flair players from HBCU teams will emerge to make their mark at the highest level of the sport.
Cole could be the next man from an HBCU background to make the leap to the NBA. In two seasons at Howard University, he was named MEAC Player of the Year in 2019, along with earning two First–Team All-MEAC honours. He averaged 23.7 points per game in his freshman year before becoming even more clinical in his sophomore season. Cole’s numbers were outstanding and gave him the confidence to declare for the 2019 Draft.
He did not hire an agent and had the option of returning to the college game for his junior season. However, Cole made the decision to transfer to the UConn Huskies forgoing his third year as he was forced to redshirt. The point guard has all the attributes to become a major success in the Big Ten. A stellar senior campaign for the Huskies would catch the attention of the leading teams in the league in the 2021 draft. We’ll be watching with great interest.
Bishop is an intriguing prospect with an interesting journey. The 23-year-old began his college career at Saint Louis and he enjoyed a solid first campaign as a freshman, earning a spot in the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. He was expected to kick on his second year and seemed to be on that trajectory before suffering an ankle injury that limited him to only nine games.
Bishop would not play again for another two years as he opted out of the 2017/18 season due to personal reasons. The point guard then transferred to Norfolk State, forgoing the 2018/19 term in requirement with the NCAA rules regarding transfers from Division 1 schools. After two years off the court, Bishop did not disappoint on his return. He was exceptional for the Spartans in his 31 games, averaging 15.6 points per game, while breaking the school record for three-pointers.
His performances were noted as he was named in the First-Team All-MEAC, and Bishop opted to declare for the 2020 draft. The 23-year-old has gone in a different direction to sign with the Phoenix Hagen in the German ProA League. There he will have a chance to test himself at a professional standard before making a potential return to the States in the NBA.
Both players are intriguing cases and it will be fascinating to see whether they are able to improve and made the grade in the NBA in the future.