Norfolk State, Hampton to play in Chris Paul-backed tournament

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Norfolk State and Hampton are two of four HBCUs selected to participate in an event backed by 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul, NSU announced Thursday.

The defending MEAC champion Spartans and Hampton will join Grambling State and Morgan State in November in the Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge Hosted by Chris Paul, in partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The inaugural event will be held Nov. 28-29 at the Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Suns. The two days’ worth of doubleheaders will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.

In a statement, NSU coach Robert Jones called participating in the event “an extreme honor.”

“We appreciate the invitation and look forward to some fierce competition from some of the top HBCUs in the country,” Jones said. “Spartan Nation, get your tickets and join us out west!”

Paul, an active philanthropist and entrepreneur, has supported HBCUs for years.

“I’m so excited for the chance to give these players the opportunity to experience something not usually available to HBCU student-athletes and compete on a national stage,” said Paul, who starred for Wake Forest. “My time in college is something I’ll never forget, and I hope these events give these players something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

The Spartans went 17-8 last season and captured the 2021 MEAC championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in their history before falling to top overall seed Gonzaga.

NSU is the only current MEAC school with two NCAA Tournament wins in its history, a feat the Spartans accomplished by beating Appalachian State in the First Four last season. Ticket information, game times and television broadcast details for the Paul event will be released later. NSU plans to release the remainder of its 2021-22 schedule in the coming week.

David Hall, david.hall@pilotonline.com

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