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 Closing in on Reclass Decision; Kentucky, Indiana in Mix
Thon Maker is closing in on a reclassification decision and could decide by February, which would make him eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft.
“We’re going to push,” Ed Smith, the guardian of the 7-foot Maker, told Steve Jones of the Louisville Courier Journal on Saturday. “At this stage, it’s not that he’s overdominating the competition – although he is dominating the position – but he needs to get in a higher-level type setting.”Smith also recently told SNY.tv that the decision on whether to move from the Class of 2016 to 2015 will be coming shortly, and will be based off multiple factors.
“The end of January is when exams are finished,” Smith said. “Results are available at the beginning of February. After that we will be able to say where we are in the process. We are pushing the envelope, but we still want him to enjoy the experience of school. He’s enjoying the experience of traveling a lot, and playing a hectic schedule. He is at a 3.9 GPA. He used to be at a 4.0. He hated losing that .1 off of it, but I still congratulated him. I want him to keep working hard at it.”
While many schools are in the equation for Maker, Smith told Jones that Kentucky and Indiana remain heavily in the mix. Kentucky head coach John Calipari and assistant Kenny Payne watched Maker go for 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in Orangeville Prep’s 63-55 win over Prolific Prep on Saturday.
Smith also mentioned Kansas, Missouri and Wake Forest recently to SNY.tv.
“The ones we’ve seen the most have been Kentucky and Kansas,” Smith said to SNY.tv. “Missouri has been with us as well for a while. But Wake Forest just jumped into the mix, Coach [Danny] Manning came up. We have heard from Kentucky and Kansas the most probably. But Indiana has been in there as well. Indiana, Kentucky and Kansas have been the ones that have been the most present, with Missouri in there also.”
Smith says that Kentucky Coach John Calipari’s ability to coach future pros is something that Maker and he are keeping an eye on.
“Coach Cal coaches pros,” Smith said. “He knows the mindset of a pro, he understands how to hone your game for an NBA Team. He understands how to do it in a short space. He has a lot more patience for guys than some of the other high programs. There are so many bodies this year though, so it’s a bit different for him this year.”
If Maker were to reclass and commit to the Cats he would join a 2015 class that already includes big man Skal Labissiere and guards Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews. Kentucky remains involved for many elite players who will commit late, including Malik Newman, Stephen Zimmerman, Cheick Diallo, Ivan Rabb and others.
The Cats missed out on Antonio Blakeney (LSU) and Carlton Bragg (Kansas).
As for Kansas, Smith told SNY.tv that Bill Self’s track record of developing big men and forwards can be a feather in Kansas’ hat in the recruitment of Maker.
“Great coach, great coach,” Smith said. “If you are looking at coaching forwards and bigs, from the Morris twins who are hybrids to Joel Embiid, you can see that he understands how to coach those guys.”
The wild card in the equation could be Wake Forest’s Manning, who watched Maker, as well as 2016 Wesleyan (N.C.) Christian forward Harry Giles on Monday evening. The idea of Giles and Maker playing together at the next level could be scary for the rest of the country, but of course if Maker reclassifies they likely wouldn’t overlap. Smith said that Maker looks for good players to play with, hence the decision to move from Carlisle to Orangeville Prep in Ontario.
“Harry and Thon played really well together at the Elite 24 in New York,” Smith said. “They are both great players, and they had a great feel for each other. They didn’t have an ego, and it was really fun to see. You want to play with really good players. A lot of people were worried about us when we left [the Carlisle (Va.) School], but we were actually looking for good players who understood how to play like Jamal Murray. Guys who knew how to run a team.”
Maker will be in New York on Saturday when Orangeville Prep plays in the Big Apple Invitational at Baruch College.
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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.