If you’ve been to a Spelman College or Morehouse College sporting event over the past few years, you’ve probably seen Taylor Gills, Corey Guy, or Miles Johnson (or their work!) in action. Gills, Guy and Johnson, three student journalists, have extensive experience covering collegiate sports, have interned for some of the industry’s most notable brands and this year, will be bringing their broadcasting talents to the award-winning State Farm Arena.
On Saturday, Feb. 26, Gills, Guy and Johnson will broadcast the fourth annual ‘HBCU Night presented by Chase’ as part of a special telecast on Bally Sports Southeast, with their game call streaming on the Bally Sports app. The night is dedicated to celebrating the educational excellence and unique culture of the more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), originally founded as institutions of higher learning for African Americans, and the Black Greek Letter Organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, collectively referred to as the Divine Nine (D9).
Hawks.com spoke with the students about reporting on some of their favorite stories, how attending an HBCU has positively impacted their sports journalism goals, excitement around broadcasting ‘HBCU Night presented by Chase’, and much more.
Coverage of Saturday’s Hawks-Raptors game will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Bally Sports Southeast; channel listings can be found here. To stream the game, go here. To stream the game with their game call, go here.
What does it mean to be the first-ever HBCU students to be calling a broadcast for not just any Hawks game, but for ‘HBCU Night presented by Chase’?
[COREY]: I would say it means a lot – very cool, thrilled to be able to represent my HBCU along with my hometown and be someone people look up to later on as an inspiration. So, it’s just really cool to be able to showcase the HBCU experience.
[TAYLOR]: It means a lot, especially for me. I am kind of new to the journalism space and extremely new to the broadcasting space, so really even being believed in or trusted for an opportunity like this it just means everything. It just helps me believe that there can be much more in my life and even give some hope that things like this will spread throughout the league and not just with the Hawks, but that HBCU students will get more exposure as a whole.
[MILES]: It’s truly an honor. I’m going to have great experience hosting my first broadcast, and you know it’s an honor to be around Corey and Taylor and share our All-Star HBCU experience. I think it’s great to give a platform for HBCUs and to also highlight the great things that the Morehouse journalism program is doing for their journalism students. So again, I’m honored, I’m excited and I just can’t wait for the first-ever HBCU broadcast and to be a part of history as well.
What can viewers expect from each of you on the broadcast? Who do you compare yourself to, and what kind-of personality do you have on air?
[COREY]: In term of who I am, I think I’m pretty different. I think I bring a lot of different aspects to the broadcast. I’m originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin so I’m hoping to bring some of my Milwaukee flair to the broadcast and I couldn’t really compare myself to any personality I feel like I’m a little bit different, and you should expect a lot of great talks about the HBCU experience along with a little bit of insight about how HBCU students think.
[TAYLOR]: Overall, I have a pretty chill personality. I think that you know you can expect authenticity from me – Not necessarily trying to sound like anybody else or trying to be somebody I’m not or sound like somebody I’m not. I am going to be the only girl on the broadcast so I think you can just expect that difference, but also having the same knowledge as the other people on the broadcast with me.
[MILES]: So I’m very fun, lively. I have my own sports podcast as well, so this broadcast kind of feels like a podcast in a sense. So, I have kind of had that experience. I look up guys like Stephen A. Smith, Chris Broussard on ESPN and Fox Sports. So, I would say if people said you know “who does Miles kind of resemble or who does he mirror in his sports analyst career?” I would say guys like Stephen A. and Chris Broussard. I’m not going to be yelling like Stephen A., but I will say that lively, that fun feel, just bringing that podcast feel to the broadcast.
What made you want to get into journalism/sports media?
[COREY]: I’ve been playing basketball my whole life – basketball and football – so sports have always been dominating my mind and my life. I enjoy the storytelling of sports. I think sports are interesting stories that we watch unfold so I love that aspect of it. As well as my father used to cut hair for NBA players when I was younger, so he kind of inspired me to be around the game and be around sports.
[TAYLOR]: I love to write. Writing was my initial love. I have my own blog that I started “Talks with Taylor” that I started summer 2020. I’m a part of an organization at Morehouse called the Maroon Tiger so that really helped me write and do multimedia journalism with broadcasting and video content. I took a sports reporting class – I mean I’ve always been in love with basketball – I have two older brothers and they’ve played my whole life and I used to play. Then I took a sports reporting class last semester at Morehouse and that just really sparked my interest in sports reporting. After I took that class, it was a sealed deal and I really fell in love with it.
[MILES]: My sophomore year of high school I first started watching sports debate shows and sports talk shows. I started to watch them a couple of times a week and then it started to be every single day before school. I watched Undisputed, First Take – then I thought, this could be me, I could talk about sports for a living one day. Now I know as a junior in college, there’s much more preparation that goes into before on-air talent goes on air. Interesting enough, I went to Morehouse and visited my sophomore year [of high school] and I met up with Mr. Thomas and I expressed to him that I’m interested in sports media and that I am interested in being a sports journalist and he said, “What are you doing right now to accomplish that goal?” I said “Well, I’m looking at Undisputed and First Take.” But he challenged me to write for my school newspaper in high school and that’s exactly what I did and since then I’ve published multiple articles for my high school and then that’s translated for me being the sports editor for the Maroon Tiger at Morehouse right now as well. So, huge credit to Professor Thomas for really challenging me to be a better writer and also pushing me to enhance my journalism career.
What are some of your favorite stories that you’ve worked on?
[COREY]: I’d say the All-Star game was very good – It is one of my favorites as well as my countless articles with the Maroon Tiger. I think my favorite story to have worked on would probably be last year I did an article about ‘41 Reasons Why Nikola Jokic is the Most Unique MVP Ever’ and I feel like that one was my favorite story, because it took longer, took a little more work, a little bit more research, but the payout was great, and the article came out fantastic.
[TAYLOR]: Definitely the stories we covered at NBA All-Star. I wrote a story on Karl Anthony Townes and his 3PT success and then I also got to interview Taylor Rooks and even before NBA All-Star – One of my favorite stories was probably one of the stories I had to write for my sports reporting class last semester on Jaylen Brown when he came to Morehouse, and he talked about a lot of good stuff.
[MILES]: I had one story actually earlier this year on Morehouse and how their sports continued despite the surge of Covid-19 cases. It was great just to get some insight from the athletic director and just how they feel about having sports continued. I’ve written an article on the Skills Challenge and Evan Mobley, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen and the fact that they won the Skills Challenge and they were the hometown heroes. My favorite has got to be the NBA HBCU Classic. I covered that game, I was courtside – it felt like I was an actual sports reporter. I had my computer out, my notebook out and taking notes during the game. Recapping that game – it felt like I was at home. It was just a great experience to cover Howard, to cover Morgan and the game went to the final whistle. So as far as games I’ve recapped and games that I’ve covered I’ve got to say that Howard and Morgan State game has been great.
What is your role at the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend? What is the best part of the experience?
[COREY]: I was really a reporter and photographer for the Maroon Tiger. I was taking photos, writing stories, gathering content from an HBCU student perspective. My favorite part of the experience was being in the room with like-minded individuals who have been in my position before and have succeeded in the sports journalism world for example, David Aldridge, Marcus Spears, Taylor Rooks – All those people who I look up to and see every day on television or on my phone. I think that was the coolest thing was being around them and being able to pick their brains and talk about how to be a better journalist.
[TAYLOR]: My role was we just went to every event, and we tried to write an article or while an event was going on whether it was the Rising Stars or the actual game, we were taking notes and starting articles and trying to finish them as soon as possible. Sometimes even finishing them before the event was over. And we got to interview players on media day so that was super amazing. But the best part, outside of actually being able to talk to players, was being able to see other Black journalists in that space and that just kind of encourages us to keep going and that could be us one day.
[MILES]: I was there as a student journalist for the Maroon Tiger. I’m currently the sports editor for the paper. So, I wrote several articles – I wrote a few articles: one introducing everybody to myself, Corey and Taylor and the fact that we were the three students from the journalism program that were invited. Then I wrote an article on the NBA HBCU Classic with Howard and Morgan State. Then I also wrote an article on the Skills Challenge. I also was a part of interviewing the legendary David Aldridge and he gave great advice on what he would say to young journalists. One thing that he said that stuck out to me was “It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” It’s okay to not have all the answers and part of being a journalist is not knowing everything.” I think that was great advice I got from him. I would say that Chris Paul during All-Star weekend – it was a learning experience because it was my first time being in this situation where I have to kind of raise my voice to ask questions and project myself I was struggling a little bit. Chris Paul saw this and he actually stopped a reporter that was asking a question and said, “Hold on” and pointed to me and allowed me to ask him my question which was on top-level recruits going to HBCUs and that shift we may be seeing with HBCUs getting top-level recruits. I was able to post that video and Morehouse reposted it – I would probably say that that’s my favorite memory and I would also say interviewing the legendary David Aldridge was also definitely amazing. I interviewed somebody that I saw on NBA2K when I was younger, you know, so it was a full-circle moment.
Where do you hope you’ll be in 10 years, and how does being an HBCU student at Morehouse/Spelman help you reach those goals?
[COREY]: In ten years, I hope to have my own platform where I can talk about sports and what’s going on in the world. I am hoping to be an influential figure in the sports media world. Again, a role model for young African Americans trying to pursue sports journalism as well. Both Morehouse and Spelman have affected me in a way and being at an HBCU has affected me in a way and I think the community that Morehouse and Spelman has built will follow me for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years and I feel like that network I’ll always have a support system no matter where I go or what I do.
[TAYLOR]: In 10 years, I hope that Talks with Taylor, my journalism/writing business, it would be worth a lot. Being an HBCU student, it just helps me believe that I can do that. It helps grow my confidence and my belief in myself in various spaces even outside of sports. I hope that Talks with Taylor and my relationships and my credibility again in sports and outside of sports would be legit and would be much bigger than it even is now.
[MILES]: In 10 years, I want to have a job in sports media. Ultimately, my long-term goal is to have a sports talk show, but I know to get to that point I have to be a great writer in that. So, in 10 years, I see myself having my own sports talk show but at the very least being a sports reporter or sports anchor and daily talking on camera about sports. Currently, I have my own sports podcast to reach this goal called ‘Real Talk with MJ’ and I talked about all sports but mainly the NBA and NFL. Being a journalism student at Morehouse, there are so many athletes and celebrities to speak to journalism students. Last semester, Jaylen Brown the Celtics star came to speak to us and he allowed me to interview him. He just spoke with us about activism and his role in leading the movement, especially during the NBA Bubble in 2020. Spike Lee has come multiple times, he came twice last semester. Mr. Thomas – He’s done a great job just implementing you know a lot of programs in which celebrities, athletes and people in journalism come to speak to journalism students and the professors at Morehouse, man, like Professor Harris who used to be here – He’s now working at Undefeated. He really helped me broaden my knowledge of pitching articles and the importance of pitching an article and so the journalism program – It’s been great top to bottom. It really just helped me become a better writer and better journalist overall.
What advice would you give anyone who has similar career aspirations to yours?
[COREY]: The best advice I’ve gotten from anyone is to just go out and do it yourself. Don’t necessarily wait for someone or wait for your big break. You can always go out and make your own content and produce your own articles, make your own videos. If you have a passion for it, you shouldn’t let anybody stop you from doing it. I would say find a way to produce as much as possible and put yourself on, as they say.
[TAYLOR]: I would just say to build connections and if you do take a class that relates to what you want to do as a student just get in touch with the people who would have opportunities that you would need, because the reason that we even got invited to NBA All Star was because of our relationship with Professor Ron Thomas at Morehouse – He’s the head of the journalism department. So, that would be my advice. Be a good student and excel in the areas that you can see yourself working in past college. Be good at it as much as you can be.
[MILES]: So with journalism, it’s always networking is key. It’s not about who you know, but how many people you know but it’s about really who you know. For myself, I was able to really just develop connections with my professors here at Morehouse. Professor Thomas – He’s a legend in himself. He’s been a sportswriter for 30 plus years and spent a lot of his career covering San Francisco sports and as soon as I got to Morehouse I made an effort to get to know him and for him to get to know myself and he’s helped me apply for internships. He told me about internships, and he’s really locked down in terms of trying to enhance my journalism career so I would first say if you’re a journalism student at HBCU or just at a college in general I would say first utilize your professors and networking with the people in your college first. Then I would say broaden out. If you go to an event you might see somebody you look up to, network with them. But also writing – writing is key so I would say read articles, read ESPN articles, read whatever publication you like. Continuously read articles because that will get you in that frame of mind on how the best journalists write articles. Also maybe practice interviewing people. It doesn’t have to be some big-time sports star – You can interview your friends if you have a friend that makes music or if you have a friend that trains people you can interview them and maybe add that to your portfolio. But just do a lot, I would say do something else outside of school whether that’s making your own blog, whether that’s having your own podcast that will also give you more experience. I know for myself starting my own podcast I’ve learned how to edit, I learned how to produce content on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube. I wouldn’t have that experience if I did not start a podcast. So, I would say if you have a goal start something outside of school to try and reach that goal and that can give you more experience in addition to networking and getting some advice from people in the business that have already done the things that that you’re trying to do.