Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Thon Maker Could Still Reclass, Be Top Pick in 2016
Thon Maker is settling in at his new school, Athlete Institute in Orangeville, Ontario, and could still reclass to 2015, which would make him eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft where he could be the No. 1 overall pick.
Maker and his younger brother, Matur, transferred to Athlete Institute last month from the Carlisle (VA) School.
“The system here is similar, it’s Western education, similar to Australia in terms of the interpretation and so forth,” his guardian, Ed Smith, told SNY.tv by phone this week.
“We came here for the basketball, for him to get better, and for him to finish up well in school.”
Smith said it remains undetermined whether the 7-foot Maker will reclass to 2015, but it remains possible, meaning he could be on a college campus next fall and in the NBA by 2016, when he turns 19.
To that end, a slew of big-time college coaches have come through Athlete Institute, including Kansas’s Kurtis Townsend this week.
“We’ve had almost everybody up in here,” said Smith, now an assistant under head coach Larry Blunt. “We’ve had so many I can’t even run through it.”
Still, Smith said Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Indiana were still working the hardest for Maker, who has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett.
The next step for Maker is to continue to build strength, add weight and prepare for college.
“College offers a great experience,” Smith said. “Socially it gets you ready to be able to deal with a lot of things in life so you can’t really discount that.”
Smith said Maker had no intentions of skipping college to play overseas the way Emmanuel Mudiay did when he signed in China.
“We’re on a college path and we never spoke about jumping,” he said. “A lot of people get ahead of themselves with speculation.”
Smith conceded that if high school players could still jump directly to the NBA, it might be something Maker would consider.
“I think the best question someone could ask is, If kids were still able to go from high school to pro would you consider going?” Smith said. “I think a lot of kids would say, ‘Yeah, I would consider going if people said they were good enough and they had a enough feedback. That really is the question.”
Asked if Thon would answer yes to that question, Smith said, “You’d probably have to speak to Thon about that and ask him exactly what he would want to do. I think it’s different for each kid. Some of them would say, ‘I would love to go to college,’ and some of them would say, ‘I would love to get right into [the NBA].’
“For Thon, I don’t think it’s about hardship like a lot of kids. He had a pretty good life in Australia. It’s not about I’m trying to feed my family and that whole nine. It’s more about what you want to do career-wise.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.