Bob Dandridge takes immense pride in representing HBCUs in Hall of Fame

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Dandridge takes immense pride in representing HBCUs in HOF originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

There are five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the state of Virginia and two of them had alumni inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend. Bob Dandridge hails from Norfolk State University, while Ben Wallace went to Virginia Union.

That distinction helped the two inductees bond over the past few months, as they learned they had been chosen in May and then were enshrined in September. Dandridge explained to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller how his own unique experience going to an HBCU gave him a natural kinship with Wallace, despite the fact they are 26 years apart and played in completely different eras of the NBA.

"One big pride now is that Ben Wallace and I get to go into the Hall at the same time. Two CIAA [Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association] brothers. Up in Springfield [in May], he and I had an opportunity to sit down by ourselves while all these major, big-time guys like [Paul] Pierce and [Kevin] Garnett and [Chris] Webber, they’re over there laughing and joking, and two CIAA guys; Ben Wallace and I had an opportunity to say ‘look at this, we are going into the Hall of Fame,'" Dandridge said.

Dandridge later explained that the jokes lobbed by Pierce and Garnett, in particular, dealt with his era of basketball, specifically the shoes they wore. Dandridge said he quipped that young players in the future will think the same about the sneakers they wore in the 2000s and 2010s.

But Dandridge is familiar with teasing because of where he went to school. The NBA more commonly pools talent from major conference schools and national powerhouse programs. 

"Going into the Hall of Fame, having gone to an HBCU is just awesome. It’s just awesome because when I first went into the league, they joked me about being from a historically Black university. But everywhere I went around the league, and there were only 13 teams in the league, there were people from Black colleges that came to games. I didn’t know them, but we had that connection of having gone to a Black college or university. We had an automatic connection," Dandridge said.

Dandridge, though, is one of 14 players from NSU to be drafted in the NBA. The most recent was Kyle O'Quinn in 2012.

Dandridge would recommend going to an HBCU because of how it prepared him for not only the NBA, but life afterward.

"The one thing about going to those historically Black colleges and universities, we were in a caring environment. I mean, professors, presidents, not only just the coaches. It was more than just about the athletics. It was about the relationships we developed with other African-Americans. Just the teachers cared about us," he said. 

"[People] say the professors, ‘I know they gave you grades.’ I say ‘y’all just don’t know.’ Those professors at those historically Black universities made sure that you were not going to embarrass the university. When we left there, we left there with a sense of pride, work ethic and some integrity. Those are the things that have carried me, things that were planted in me many years ago that I’ve been able to retain and work on and it’s made Bob Dandridge the man and the individual that he’s grown to be. I’m just real proud of having gone to one of those schools."