The women’s college game, let alone women’s HBCU basketball, is a testament to empowerment through sport. The women’s game is evolving more than ever and it’s beautiful to observe. Still, there’s no denying we have a long way to go in providing an equitable playing field for women hoopers relative to their male counterparts. The women’s HBCU basketball landscape is flooded with talent that warrants the same type of recognition that Power Five hoopers get. This upcoming women’s season will provide a lot of entertainment, unpredictability and moments that leave us in awe. Here are a few storylines to follow…
Last year, there was one women’s HBCU program in particular that separated itself from the pack for the vast majority of the season: Jackson State University. While members of the media were focused on Deion “Primetime” Sanders and the school’s football team, they were overlooking a historic run unfolding right before their eyes. The women’s team entered the SWAC tournament on a crazy win streak and was heavily favored to clinch a spot in March Madness. They’d end up being upset by Southern University in the semifinals on a last second buzzer-beater. This year, the Lady Tigers are on a revenge tour to make up for that lost opportunity. They’re returning All-SWAC First Teamer Ti’lan Boler and SWAC Coach of the Year Tomekia Reed, along with a group of ladies proven to have a positive impact on the floor. The sky’s the limit for the Lady Tigers–let’s see where they land.
Norfolk State punched their ticket to the Big Dance after a stellar season in which they won their regular season and conference tournament. They want to take things a step further this year. That means advancing in March Madness. Repeating their success will prove challenging as the Lady Spartans lost two All-MEAC First Team selections, including the Defensive Player of the Year, Camille Downs. But this year’s squad is star-studded, led by one NC State transfer Diamond Johnson, a potential WNBA draft pick. Johnson isn’t the only high-major talent on the roster, which consists of transfers from St. Johns, VCU and Seton Hall. Coach Larry Vickers was named MEAC Coach of the Year last season, and the staff he’s put together has been a major factors in transfers opting to play for him. The Lady Spartans have the ingredients to be very special and make some real noise in college basketball this year.
All eyes will be on returning MEAC Player of the Year Destiny Howell out of Howard University. The 6-foot guard will be on a mission to maintain her spot as the best player in the conference. She’s the only player from last year’s All-MEAC First Team who wasn’t a senior or graduate student. If she’s even a little better this year and All-Rookie selection Nile Miller continues trending upward, Howard University has a real shot at cutting down the nets at the end of the season.
HBCUs have an exceptional history of producing female athletes who embody strength, resilience and excellence both on and off the court. This season, we continue to honor and build upon this legacy.
Photos via Getty Images.