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Winston-Salem State tops Virginia Union in NBA HBCU Classic

Winston Salem St Virginia Union Basketball
Posted at 9:10 AM, Feb 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-18 09:11:28-05

INDIANAPOLIS — While Virginia Union coach Jay Butler would have liked a different outcome, both teams had a winning experience at the NBA HBCU Classic.

Ketron Shaw scored 15 points and Jaylen Alston had 14 points and 11 rebounds to pace Winston-Salem State to a 64-47 victory Saturday in the NBA HBCU Classic. Issac Parson added 12 points and 11 assists for the Rams (17-8, 11-5 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association). Jaylin Parker scored 11 points,

Tahj Harding led Virginia Union (11-17, 6-9 CIAA ) with 11 points and Travis Vaughn added nine points.

The game between the two NCAA Division II teams from the historically Black universities was played at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the same court as the NBA All-Stars will play on Sunday night.

“This was big time,” Butler said. “This was an awesome event. Something things kids will remember for the rest of their lives. When we first got here, they rolled out the red carpet from the airport, to the hotel to the arena.”

Being a Division II school, Butler said the players don’t get to play on this kind of big stage.

“It’s big for our school and program and for our recruiting, moving forward,” Butler said. “I just want to thank the NBA and all those sponsors for basically allowing this event to happen. It is big for the HBCU community just to get this opportunity to play in front of millions on national TV.”

Vaughn, one of eight freshmen for the Panthers, said he never experienced anything like it.

“It was just an an amazing experience,” he said recounting the NBA stars he met. “I’m very fortunate. ... I got to meet Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard. I look up to them for my game, so I was very fortunate for that.”

Alston was starstruck, too.

“Walking in we got to see Kevin Durant,” Alston said. “I kind of stopped. I forgot a game was still happening, so I had to catch myself.”

Parson said “the coolest thing for me was I got to see Jalen Brunson and speak with him.”

Winston Salem St Virginia Union Basketball
Winston-Salem State guard Jaylen Alston (4) is trapped by Virginia Union forwards Jonathan King (15) and Joshua Caine (44) during the second half of the HBCU Classic NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Winston-Salem State coach Cleo Hill Jr. said it was special for all involved.

“I couldn’t even imagine when I was 18 to 24 years old, coming into the All-Star Game playing in front of Earl Monroe, Clyde Frazier and Magic Johnson, so that was huge,” Hill said. “On the flip side for the student-athletes, they have career day (Sunday) and well-suited and booted to put our best foot forward for life after basketball. For myself, with my dad playing in the NBA for a short time, it was gratifying.”

Durant, representing the Phoenix Suns as an All-Star, said it’s huge for the two teams to have the stage.

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

Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, was among those in attendance.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Union: After winning two in a row, the Panthers have now lost three in a row.

Winston-Salem State: The Rams previously beat Virginia Union 65-56 on Nov. 19 in the Small College Hall of Fame game in Uncasville, Connecticut. Winston-Salem leads the all-time series

UP NEXT

Virginia Union: At Elizabeth City State on Wednesday

Winston-Salem State: At Johnson C. Smith on Thursday

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