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Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell Want Continued Growth for HBCU Classic 

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Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell have been strong proponents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). That is why both parties are big fans of the NBA hosting its third annual HBCU Classic during All-Star Weekend. The event took place at the Gainbridge Field House in Indianapolis, Indiana on Saturday between Virginia Union University (VUU) and Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).

Prior to the matchup, Durant and Mitchell spoke to Double Take Sports Founder Carita Parks about their support for the NBA HBCU Classic and how it is increasing the visibility of HBCU talent. 

“It’s huge, it’s huge. Just an opportunity for people around the country to see the type of talent they have at HBCUs. It’s a lot of hidden gems there, great coaching, great talent up and down the board. So if you can give them the platform to showcase their talents and skills, we need to do so,” Durant said. “I’m excited for them.  Hopefully this becomes an annual thing and we start to see more and more talent coming from HBCUs.”

“I think the NBA and what we’ve done as a league…we’ve done a phenomenal job of being able to support that. What better way to do that than bringing it to All-Star Weekend. After I answer this question, I’m going over there right now to show my love and support. At the end of the day, if we don’t support us, who will?” Mitchell said. “I think it will continue to grow and continue to get better.” 

In 2021, Mitchell made headlines for rocking a stylish HBCU Pride letterman jacket created by the Chicago Playground Clothing Line to Game 1 of the Utah Jazz/Memphis Grizzlies playoff series. He was also involved in last year’s HBCU Classic where he gave the players from Grambling State University a pair of his new shoes in partnership with Adidas. 

Durant has also done his fair share of giving back to HBCUs. Last December, his foundation donated $500,000 to Bowie State University, Maryland’s oldest historically Black college. Durant is a native of Prince George’s County in Maryland. The school intends to use the donation for renovations of the university’s basketball arena, to provide financial support for men’s and women’s basketball and university athletics programs, and to establish a scholarship for Durant Center College Track Students. 

Several HBCU alumni attended the HBCU Classic on Saturday including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and NBA legend Ben Wallace. Smith played for the legendary Clarence “Big House” Gaines at Winston-Salem and spent time with John McClendon, the Hall of Fame coach who helped pioneer fast-break basketball.

The Winston-Salem State Rams went on to defeat the Virginia Union Panthers 64-47. However, each school which represented the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) received $100,000 from the NBA and AT&T as part of their ongoing commitment and support to HBCUs. The Rams were also crowned champions of the 2023 CIAA Tournament in Baltimore, MD.