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 Will Visit Kentucky, Kansas If He Reclasses; Going to Europe or China Next Year Also an Option
NEW YORK — Thon Maker will visit Kentucky, Kansas and several other schools if he ends up reclassing next month, his guardian Ed Smith told SNY.tv Saturday night.
Smith said he will also work in advance with the NCAA to make sure the 7-foot native of the South Sudan passes through the NCAA Clearinghouse, and if for some reason he cannot, Maker would consider playing next season in Europe or China.
“If we reclass then we’ll start looking at who we would visit,” Smith told SNY.tv before Maker went for 14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 turnovers as Orangeville Prep (Ontario) lost to the Phelps (Pa.) School, 66-64, at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College.
“We would visit Kansas, we would visit Kentucky. We’ll see where Duke is within the process and where Indiana is within the process, UCLA is within the process. And Missouri and Wake Forest.
“Kansas and Kentucky with Indiana, they’ve been in it [Maker’s recruitment] the longest.”
He added: “You stay with those guys who were consistent with you.”
Smith said Maker would also consider playing in Europe or China, but that spending another year at Orangeville Prep — or any other high school — is unlikely.
“He could go to Europe, he could go to China, the same route as Emmanuel [Mudiay] or he could go to college,” Smith said. “Those are all options that are out there, but for him, he’s been focused on going to college.”
Maker told Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com: “I’ve been watching college ball for a while. And it just causes me to think about that, reclassifying. So I can get ready for college ball.
“The college decision, I can’t wait for that,” he added. “That’s what I’m really focused on.”
Currently one of the top prospects in the Class of 2016, Maker expects to make a decision about reclassing sometime in early February — but that is Smith’s preference.
“Between a week to two weeks from the 28th [of January]” we will know about reclassing, Smith said. “By the end of this year, he’ll have all his core done, and we’ll see what he can do and how much man-hours there are for him to do the work for the school.”
Smith added: “We want to make sure that he’s able to qualify for the NCAA process.”
Some have speculated that Maker will never spend a day on a college campus because of concerns about his amateurism status.
“I think there were people speaking about not being able to qualify because of amateurism,” Smith said. “Now I’m not familiar with all their amateurism rules, the book is very thick. I have to get familiar with all the rules and so forth. I look at Shaqquan Aaron over there [at Louisville] and they were like, he was on scholarship over there at Mater Dei (Calif.). I think the issues was, who paid for his scholarship, and those are things you don’t think about…So you better backtrack and say, ‘Who wrote the check?’
“But one thing, I don’t want him sitting any period of time. I will say this, I don’t want him sitting any period of time while any NCAA investigation is going on.”
Smith said he will try to work with the NCAA in advance to clarify whether Maker — who has attended three high schools and lived in four countries — would be eligible.
“We’re going to try to do our work early with the NCAA, be totally transparent with them,” Smith said.
“In February we’ll know where we are, and we’re going to start that process hard. This is who we are, this is what we’ve done, here you go, you tell us if we fit under your umbrella or do we need to look at other alternatives because we would love to have the opportunity to play college ball, but we have to make sure we are fitting under the [NCAA] umbrella.”
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.