SLAM’s Top 20 Men’s HBCU Players of All Time: PART 4

​​When you look at some of the greatest to ever play the game, there are plenty of them who starred at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU basketball has provided a platform for some legendary standouts to display their skills at schools such as Winston-Salem State, Grambling State, Virginia Union, Tennessee State, North Carolina A&T and others.

These schools haven’t received a lot of national attention for their contributions to the game. Nevertheless, HBCUs have produced some terrific talent, who have gone on to enjoy careers in the NBA, such as Leonard “Truck” Robinson (Tennessee State, New Orleans Jazz), Donald “Slick” Watts (Xavier La., Seattle SuperSonics), Caldwell Jones (Albany State, Philadelphia 76ers), Purvis Short (Jackson State, Golden State Warriors), Larry Smith (Alcorn State, Golden State Warriors), and Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk State, Philadelphia 76ers), among many other.

Right now, Robert Covington from Tennessee State, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, is the only active NBA player from an HBCU.

This number could change with some future potential prospects playing at Black institutions, like Joe Bryant (Norfolk State), Tyree Corbett (Coppin State), Kyle Foster (Howard), M.J. Randolph (Florida A&M), and Jalen Johnson (Alabama A&M), to name a few. Today’s HBCU stars are well-coached, with the likes of LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central University), Robert Jones (Norfolk State), Johnny Jones (Texas Southern), and Byron Smith (Prairie View A&M) among the many impactful mentors.

In addition, the NBA and the NBPA will host a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game between Howard University and Morgan State on Saturday, Feb. 19 during NBA All-Star Weekend at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Throughout Black History Month, SLAM spotlighted five HBCU legends who were not only dominant players during their time, but also trail blazers of the game.

Check out our list from Week 1 (Earl Monroe, Charles Oakley, Rick Mahorn, Willis Reed, Avery Johnson), Week 2(Sam Jones, Ben Wallace, Dick Barnett, Bobby Dandridge, Marvin Webster) and Week 3 (Earl Lloyd, Lindsey Hunter, Al Attles, Ronald “Flip” Murray, Cleo Hill).  

Mike Davis was an outstanding scorer. Not only did he finish his career as the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer with 2,758 points, but Davis is also the CIAA’s second all-time leading scorer behind Hall of Famer Earl Monroe (2,935). During the 1967-68 season, Davis averaged 36.3 points a game, and in 1969, he was named CIAA Player of the Year. Davis went on to play for the Baltimore Bullets and the Buffalo Braves during his four NBA seasons, as well as for the Memphis Tams in the ABA.

Travis Grant was a scoring machine during his days at Kentucky State. He averaged 33.4 points a game during his career while taking the Thorobreds to three straight NAIA championships. The three-time NAIA All-American finished his career with 4,045 career points. In 1972, Grant was selected as a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Draft.  

Zelmo Beaty could make things happen on both ends of the floor and was both a brilliant scorer and rebounder. He finished his college career with 2,285 points and 1,916 rebounds. In 1962, he led Prairie View A&M to the NAIA championship and was the third overall pick in that year’s draft by the St. Louis Hawks. 

Beaty, who played six seasons in St. Louis and with the ABA’s Utah Stars, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Marques Haynes had an amazing college basketball career. He guided Langston University to an incredible record of 112-3 over his four years, which includes a 59-game winning streak. Haynes was the team’s all-time leading scorer, and a four-time All-State, All Conference selection and the team’s Most Valuable Player.

As one of the all-time greatest ball handlers, Beaty had a magnificent professional career with the Harlem Globetrotters where he showcased his sensational dribbling skills.

Elmore Smith was a tremendous rebounder who averaged 22.6 rebounds a game at Kentucky State and grabbed 1,917 rebounds during his college career. He was also a great scorer around the basket and averaged 21.3 points a game. Playing alongside All-American Travis Grant, Smith helped lead Kentucky State to two NAIA championships.

A third selection overall with the Buffalo Braves in 1971 NBA Draft, Smith played eight NBA seasons for the Braves, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Photos via Getty Images.