North Carolina Central University Hall of Famer Harold Hunterhelped lead to victory the basketball team of what was then NorthCarolina College in the 1950 tournament of the ColoredIntercollegiate Athletic Association, the former name of theCIAA.
Hunter, the point guard, was named mostoutstanding player.
On April 26, 1950, Hunter became the firstAfrican American player to sign an NBA contract, though as RonThomas writes in his book, “They Cleared theLane: The NBA’s Black Players,” he never playedin an NBA game—the Washington Capitols cut the 5 foot 9player in training camp. He eventually was a successful coach,becoming, in 1968, the first African American to coach the U.S.Olympic basketball team.
Durham, N.C., native Emmit Gill Jr. throughVintage Sports Apparel is keeping Hunter’s accomplishments, as wellas those of other black pioneers in the NBA, alive.
Vintage Sports Apparel is the designer,producer and distributor of authentic vintage Historically BlackCollege and University basketball and football jerseys.
Its goals are to celebrate heroes such asHunter and Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in an NBAgame; to serve as inspiration; and to pay tribute to thosepioneers’ roles in making a way for future NBA players.
“I saw the value in HBCU players and theculture that surrounded them,” said Gill.
VSA is launching a Black College Classics”It’s not just the jersey, it’s the story”Tour.
“Every jersey has a story and I hopethat when people wear the jersey they know the story and it becomesa talking point,” said Gill.
The tour started in January at a game betweenNorth CarolinaA & TStateUniversity and HamptonUniversity andcontinues until end of the CIAA tournament, which begins inRaleigh, N.C., on Feb. 23.
The jerseys range from $100 to $225.
“The unique thing about the tour is thatstudents get $25 off the regular price,” said Gill. “Ireally want to have an opportunity to help promote black collegesports, not just for fashion but to let kids know how important itis.”
By researching HBCU coaches, libraries andteammates, the company was able to make Black College Classicthrowback jerseys featuring Hunter, Alvin Attles of North CarolinaA&T, Cleo Hill ofWinston-Salem Teachers College, Rick Mahorn of Hampton; andthe 1955 Howard University basketball team.
The jerseys may be ordered through www.vintagesportsapparel.comor (301) 434-7793.
Dorian Mills, a student at NorthCarolinaCentralUniversity, writes for The Campus Echo.