As Baltimore celebrates its rich heritage as one of the country’s epicenters of African-American culture and achievement during Black History Month, it’s only fitting that the city welcomes the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Tuesday is the start of the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament at the newly refurbished CFG Bank Arena (otherwise known as the Civic Center, Baltimore Arena, Royal Farms Arena, 1st Mariner Arena or The Chicken Box, depending on your age).
Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on the city for the Division II tournament that organizers say will inject upwards of $20 million into the local economy through ticket sales and other spending — retail, lodging, food, beverage and entertainment — during its run through Saturday, February 25.
Last year was the first time the event was brought to Baltimore and a few months later, the CIAA announced it would extend the tournament’s run in Baltimore through the 2025 season.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association was founded in 1912 (it was originally known as The Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association until 1950), and its signature hoops tournament is one of the largest events for historically Black colleges and universities. It is equal parts fashion show, HBCU/family reunion, a dizzying array of parties and a stirring reminder of the vibrant role that alumni of HBCUs have had in the shaping of America.
The CIAA’s legacy of hoops excellence is undeniable, too: from playground legends like Pee Wee Kirkland and Jumpin’ Jackie Jackson to NBA players such as Charles Oakley and Rick Mahorn and on to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Earl The Pearl Monroe, Al Attles and Sam Jones.
If you’re headed to the arena, here is a glance at the teams you’ll see this year. Teams are arranged by seed; the top four seeds in both the women’s and men’s tournament get a bye into the second round.
1. Fayetteville State
18-6 overall record, 14-2 conference record
Coach: Serena King-Coleman, 6th Season
Players to watch: Aniyah Bryant, a 5-foot-7 junior from Havelock, North Carolina is the team’s leading scorer with 12.8 points per game. She also leads the team in assists.
Key note: The Fayetteville State women’s basketball team heads into the CIAA Tournament as the Southern Division Champs and the overall No. 1 seed.
18-8 overall record, 12-4 conference record
Coach: Janice Washington, 2nd Season
Players to watch: The Lady Lions are led by sophomore Anyssa Fields, a 6-foot guard/forward from Long Branch, New Jersey who’s averaging 14.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. Senior Kania Pollock, a 5-foot-8 guard from Queens, New York, is a defensive menace while also averaging 14.3 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Key note: The Lady Lions beat Elizabeth City State 67-52 in last year’s championship game. The returning CIAA Tournament champs are the favorite to repeat this year.
3. Winston-Salem State
15-9 overall record, 11-5 conference record
Coach: L’Tonya Lamonte, 1st Season
Players to watch: Amaya Tucker, a 5-foot-6 graduate student from Winston-Salem, leads a balanced attack while averaging 12.4 points per game.
Key note: Lamonte was a two-sport athlete during her undergraduate career at Winston-Salem State. She’s in the NCAA softball history book in five different categories and led the nation in stolen bases during her junior season with the Rams.
4. Bowie State
14-11 overall record, 10-6 conference record
Coach: Shadae Swan, 8th Season
Players to watch: Anil Harris, the 5-foot-7 guard from Ellicott City, leads the Lady Bulldogs with 14.7 points per game. 5-foot-8 Redshirt Sophomore Katerra Myers, from Burtonsville, Maryland, is the leading rebounder with 6.9 per game.
Key note: In the regular season finale against the defending CIAA Tournament champion Lincoln University Lady Lions, Harris scored 21 points and Myers chipped in with 17 points and 8 rebounds in Bowie’s 62-44 victory.
5. Elizabeth City State
16-10 overall record, 10-6 conference record
Coach: Tynesha Lewis, 1st Season
Players to watch: Dy’Jhanik Armfield, a 5-foot-7 junior from Cincinnati, Ohio, leads the team in scoring with 10.7 points per game. Sireann Pitts is the returning CIAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Key note: Head Coach Tynesha Lewis was a four-time All-ACC player during her college career at North Carolina State and played six seasons in the WNBA with the Houston Comets, Charlotte Sting and Minnesota Lynx.
15-13 Overall, 8-8 conference record
Coach: Jacques Curtis, 23 years
Players to watch: Shaw’s balanced attack is paced by Mackenzie Pollard, a 5-foot-8 senior from Baltimore, Tanaysia London, a 6-foot forward from New Haven, Conn. and Brittiney Seymour, a 6-foot-1 forward/center from Ewing, N.J., all of whom average between 11 and 12 points per game.
Key note: Curtis led Shaw to the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015, with three appearances in the Elite Eight and advancing as far as the Final Four in 2011.
7. Virginia State
11-15 overall record, 7-9 conference record
Coach: Nadine Domond, 1st Season
Players to watch: Sommer Blakemore, a 5-foot-6 senior guard from Apple Valley, Minn., leads the squad with 14.8 points per game.
Key note: Domond, a member of the Connecticut Basketball Hall of Fame who played collegiately for the legendary C. Vivian Stringer at the University of Iowa, was the 18th overall pick by the New York Liberty in the 1998 WNBA Draft
8. Johnson C. Smith
11-15 overall record, 6-10 conference record
Coach: Dante Travis, Interim
Players to watch: Shaniya Jones, a 5-foot-7 redshirt senior from High Point, N.C., averages 16.8 points per game.
Key note: The Golden Bulls finished up the season strong with a 75-41 win against Claflin.
9. Virginia Union
13-15 overall record, 5-11 conference record
Coach: Tierra Terry, 3rd Season
Players to watch: Ny Langley, a 5-foot-10 forward from Greenville, N.C., is a double-double machine who averages 16.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
Key note: Langley scored a season-high 34 points Dec. 17 against Winston-Salem State.
11-17 Overall, 5-11 conference record
Coach: Chiante Wester, 4th Season
Players to watch: Daisa Harris, a 5-foot-8 guard from Silver Spring, leads the team in assists and scoring, with 17.7 points per game.
Key note: In a 62-60 win over Johnson C. Smith on Senior Day, Jamiah Lane, a 5-foot-10 forward from Thomson, Georgia scored a season-high 20 points.
12-12 overall record, 5-11 conference record
Coach: Terrence Jenkins, 1st full season after being named the interim coach in December 2021
Players to watch: 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Lauren Scott, who hails from Columbia, S.C., leads the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game. Nya Morris, a 5-foot-9 sophomore from Pittsburgh, Penn., averages 12.2 points and leads the squad with 5.8 rebounds per game.
Key note: In Claflin’s 76-52 loss to a strong Fayetteville State squad, Janelle Sample, a 5-foot-7 guard from Richmond, Virginia, came off the bench to score 20 points. Sample was named to the 2021-2022 CIAA Al-Rookie Team after a standout freshman season.
12. St. Augustine’s
8-16 overall record, 4-12 conference record
Coach: Ebony Tanner, 2nd full season after being hired in January 2021
Players to watch: Sophomore forward Taniyah Greene, from Cheltenham, Md., leads the Falcons with 15.4 points per game and is second in rebounding, with 5.9 per game. Sophomore Lauren Banks, from Clifton, Md., averages 13.6 points per game on .365 3-point shooting.
Key note: Tanner took over the program mid-season in 2021, coming over from Shaw, where she had served as assistant on veteran coach Jacques Curtis’ staff since 2018.
1. Virginia Union
22-6 overall record, 12-4 conference record
Coach: Jay Butler, 8th Season
Players to watch: Virginia Union’s trio of 6-foot-5 senior forward Robert Osborne, who is averaging 20.3 points and 8.9 rebounds, Raemaad Wright and Kaleaf Tate are worth the price of admission.
Key note: Virginia Union lost a 65-62 nail-biter to Fayetteville State in last year’s CIAA Tournament championship game.
2. Fayetteville State
16-12 overall record, 11-5 conference record
Coach: Luke D’Alessio, 3rd Season
Players to watch: Tyler Foster, Cress Worthy and Caleb Coleman are double digit scorers who lead a balanced attack.
Key note: The Broncos defeated Virginia Union 65-63 in last year’s championship game. It was their first CIAA title since Pam Grier was doling out some vigilante justice in 1973.
3. Virginia State
17-10 overall record, 10-6 conference record
Coach: Lonnie Blow, Jr., 12th Season
Players to watch: Keep your eyes on Francis “BJ” Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-6 guard from Danville, Va. and Terrence Hunter-Winfield, a 6-foot-5 senior forward from Chesterfield, Va., who are averaging 15.6 and 17.8 points, respectively.
Key note: Coach Blow’s Trojans were named 2018-19 HBCU Mid-Major National Champions. He’s the first coach to win a basketball championship at two different CIAA Institutions and he’s been named the conference coach of the year four times.
19-6 overall record, 10-6 conference record
Coach: Brion Dunlap, 1st Season
Players to watch: Jailen Williams, a 6-foot junior guard from Salisbury, N.C., leads a balanced scoring attack with 12.4 points per game.
Key note: Allen Hatchett, a 6-foot-4 graduate student from Memphis, had 24 points and five rebounds in Claflin’s regular-season finale, a 75-67 win over Johnson C. Smith.
5. Winston-Salem State
17-8 overall record, 9-7 conference record
Coach: Cleo Hill, Jr., 5th Season
Players to watch: Robert Colon, a 6-foot-1 senior from Jacksonville, N.C., spearheads the offense with 17 points per game.
Key note: The Rams snapped a three-game losing streak on their recent senior day with a 65-56 win over Livingstone. Jaylen Alston, 16 points and 9 rebounds.
14-14 overall record, 8-8 conference record
Coach: Jason A. Armstrong, Interim
Players to watch: Korey Williams, a 6-foot senior guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., averages 17.2 points per game.
Key note: Lincoln finished 3-1 over its final four games.
15-13 overall record, 8-8 conference record
Coach: Bobby Collins, 2nd Season
Players to watch: Jamari Roberts, a 6-foot-10 junior from Norfolk, Va., had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the 70-60 season ending win over Elizabeth City State.
Key note: In the season finale, Shaw connected on 50% of its three-point attempts.
11-14 overall record, 7-9 conference record
Coach: James Stinson, 18th Season
Players to watch: Khyree Temple, a sophomore swingman from Philadelphia, leads the Livingstone attack with 19.0 points per game.
Key note: Livingstone’s last CIAA championship came in 2015.
9. Elizabeth City State
12-15 overall record, 6-10 conference record
Coach: Andre Gray, Interim
Players to watch: The Vikings have four players that average double figures in scoring: Tre Richardson, Jaquantae Harris, Eric Butler and Jaden Flournoy
Key note: The Vikings went 5-5 over their last ten games.
10. Bowie State
7-21 overall record, 5-11 conference record
Coach: Darrell Brooks, 11th Season
Players to watch: Quinton Drayton, a 6-foot-5 senior guard from Bowie, leads the Bulldog scoring attack with 12.4 points per game.
Key note: The Bulldogs won their regular season finale with a 67-56 win over Lincoln.
11. Johnson C. Smith
9-16 overall record, 5-11 conference record
Coach: Stephen Joyner, Sr., 28th Season
Players to watch: Ezekiel Cannady, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Kings Mountain, N.C., is the squad’s leading scorer with 15.4 points per game.
Key note: The Golden Bulls lost all of their away games this year, going 0-10
12. St. Augustine’s
8-17 overall record, 5-11 conference record
Coach: Chucky Brown, 1st season
Players to watch: Jaylen Richard, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, leads the Falcons with 13.7 points per game. Freshman forward Nemo Johnson (6-foot-6), averages 10 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.
Key note: Brown played for 12 different NBA franchises, putting him in a tie with three other players for the most by a single player.