Top tier University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff basketball player Zaay Green is encouraging other successful student-athletes to choose HBCUs! Get the full story from Desmond Nugent at news station KATV below.
Throughout the country, more Power 5 college athletes are transferring to get the experience at a historically Black college and university. Recently the No. 1 overall player and longtime Florida State University commit Travis Hunter, Jr. signed with Jackson State University, an HBCU.
According to officials with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, for the first time in school history, the lady Golden Lions received a national basketball player in Zaay Green. The team’s head basketball coach Dawn Thronton told KATV, top tier athletes making the transition to play at an HBCU are allowing those schools to be more in the national spotlight.
“I don’t know if there’s an HBCU that’s got a top 10 kid in the country on their campus or on their team, a starter for a McDonald’s All-American, we have to be the first,” Green said.
According to Thornton, HBCU acknowledge the value of Black student-athletes. She said Green is averaging nearly 15 points a game, she’s a leader and is a humble player. Thronton is a former SWAC basketball player and HBCU graduate and calls highly recruited athletes transferring to an HBCU a movement.
“I think as a culture, as a whole we understand that we wanna give back to us. I tell kids all of the time when I’m recruiting student-athletes, nobody can coach us like us, nobody can teach us like us,” Thronton said.
“Being on that side, it was totally different,” Green said. “I really was just tired of like the noise around there. It was always if you not doing this, if you not doing that, then there’s no name and you don’t matter.”
Another player who made the transition to UAPB from mid-major school at Jacksonville University is Khadijah Brown. According to Brown, her experiences at a UAPB feel more like home.
“It’s definitely a culture difference, I feel more comfortable,” Brown said. “I remember going to certain events at my old school which was a PWI and it didn’t feel authentic it felt forced.”
The lady Golden Lions have a current record of 4 wins and six losses for the season, but almost defeated the University of Miami at the Miami Holiday Classic in early December.
Brown and Green told KATV they hope their story brings more high-caliber athletes to play for HBCU’S.
“It doesn’t matter, the name doesn’t matter, like how big the school is and where it’s at. regardless if it’s a school if it’s D-1 you can go hoop, then go hoop,” Green said.
According to Brown, she believes they can compete and win against highly ranked Power 5 schools.
“We’re just breaking the glass ceiling and we’re trying to be seen just like any other student-athlete at a Power 5 school or PWI,” Brown said.
According to Coach Thronton, one of her goals is to push her athletes to get to the next level and she believes Green could be drafted by the WNBA.
Officials with UAPB said more than 30 football players have been drafted in the NFL and several men’s basketball players have had careers overseas. They said Green could be the first female athlete drafted by the WNBA in school history.