Sports Journalism Blog

By Kondwani Mzumara | @kondwamz

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — The Winston-Salem State University Rams won the NBA HBCU Classic over Virginia Union University Panthers 64-47 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Saturday.

Winston-Salem State (17-8), the defending Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament champions, led by as many as 23 points.

Ketron Shaw led the Rams with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting. The team was led by junior guard Isaac Parson who scored 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Senior guard Jaylen Alston, who scored a career-high 35 points against Fayetteville State in his previous game, recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting with 11 rebounds. Winston-Salem State, 11-5 in conference play, had a field goal percentage of 44.6%.

Virginia Union (11-17, 6-9) was led by junior guard Tahj Harding, who scored 11 points. Freshman point guard Travis Vaughn scored nine points. Virginia Union finished with a field goal percentage of 37.8%.

The NBA HBCU Classic, which took place on the second day of NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, was an opportunity for two HBCU basketball teams to get larger exposure than ever before.

“We don’t have as much media coverage,” said fifth-year Winston-Salem State coach Cleo Hill, Jr. “There’s a lot of media coverage in the CIAA tournament but it’s not quite like this.”

The players also used the occasion as a way to prepare for big games including the CIAA tournament.

“This was a big game for us, being that we have a CIAA tournament coming up and it was like a big arena just like CIAA tournaments, so it got guys prepared for what’s going on coming up,” Parson said.

Despite the loss for Virginia Union, the team will look back on the overall experience of playing in an atmosphere that the All-Star Game provided.

“This was big time, this was an awesome event, something that these kids will remember for the rest of their lives,” Virginia Union head coach Jay Butler, who has coached for the team for eight seasons, said. “It is big for the HBCU community just to get this opportunity to play in front of millions on national TV.”