NCB On The Trail: Thon Maker

Adidas Super 64 recap 

July, 25, 2014
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LAS VEGAS -- It was our first look at the national talent on the Adidas side of things and we did not go home disappointed. Hosting the Adidas Super 64 at the Cashman Center allows coaches and scouts to stay at one venue and take in the talents of fast-rising senior Jaylen Brown as well as the multi-faceted game of super junior Miles Bridges. However, there were a couple of highly ranked seniors that didn't match the Vegas heat as their performance would fall under the "too cool" category.

Best Senior

[+] EnlargeJaylen Brown
Kelly Kline/AdidasSeveral big-name college coaches were in attendance to watch small forward Jaylen Brown take to the court in Las Vegas.
Jaylen Brown

The NBPA top 100 dream team 

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
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After watching over 100 prospects at the NBPA top 100 camp during a four-day period, I thought who would I want to coach if I had one practice before playing one game.

I am making my decisions based on their performances and stats from the camp courtesy of Statva.com, along with prior evaluations from the high school year and the spring evaluation period.

Assembling this team wasn't just about sheer talent. It was more about the prospects’ skill level, productivity, and how well they know their roles and are able to blend their talent into a team concept. The roster below has everything I would want and need to win a game.

Here is the starting lineup, sixth man, and bench:

Starting lineup


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NBPA Top 100 camp wrap 

June, 22, 2014
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The NBPA Top 100 camp always displays some of the best collections of talent in the summer.

The most impressive part of this event was the fact that the players played hard and competed from start to finish. Here are some players who stood out.

Best point guards

Perry Dozier (Columbia, South Carolina/Spring Valley)
PG/SG, 2015, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds


Perry is a rare combo guard. Many players who are designated as combo guards are generally not a point guard or a shooting guard. Dozier is actually both, as he can play either guard spot with equal efficiency. He was much more productive and assertive than I had seen in the past, and he showed the ability to run a team. Dozier averaged just over 8 points per game for the camp, but he showcased the ability of a top-20 player in the class.


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NBPA Top 100 Day 2 recap 

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The second day of the NBPA top 100 camp is in the books, and now that the players have a greater feel of what to expect, there was a good flow to the games.

As the talent gets acclimated to each other, the matchups become exciting and intriguing. Let’s take a look at who impressed and what was the best head-to-head matchup of the day.


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If you’ve noticed a sudden rush of recruiting information for 2016 prospects in the last few days, it's no coincidence.

Sunday was the first day that college coaches were permitted to contact prospects in the rising junior class, and for some prospects that literally meant the phone rang when the clock struck midnight.

Often times, those conversations are followed by some sort of offer. Here’s a look at some of the latest news for the Class of 2016:


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The Class of 2015 is in its early stages of development as new prospects are being recognized weekly and more established prospects are working to keep their reputations intact. May is a time to evaluate and analyze the nation's best. We will update our rankings in June after we get a thorough evaluation and find the emerging talent in this class.

With six months to go before the early signing period here is an early preview of the Class of 2015:


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#AskCoachB: Sweet '16

March, 4, 2014
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

From @BrotherQC on Twitter: @PaulBiancardi How high are you on the 2016 class of talent? Looks promising so far. #AskcoachB

I am extremely high on the Class of 2016. They are years away from maturity and development, but this group has some stars-in-the-making who are starting to blossom.

Thon Maker (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle School), ranked No. 1 in the ESPN 25 for the sophomore class, is a shot blocker who is unique as a 7-footer with tremendous skill-to-size ratio. No. 2 Josh Jackson (Southfield, Mich./Consortium College Prep) could be the best player in the state of Michigan already. No. 4 Jayson Tatum (St. Louis/Chaminade College Prep) is picking up traction as not only an elite player in his class, but in the high school game.

When No. 3 Harry Giles (Winston-Salem, N.C./Wesleyan Christian) returns from a knee injury, he will be in the conversation for the No. 1 spot, which he held at one time.

Another name to keep an eye on is No. 6 V.J. King (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary), who has very good ball skills. No. 5 Dedric Lawson (Memphis, Tenn./Hamilton) has a smooth stroke and great size as a scorer.

At similar points, the Class of 2016 is stronger at the top than the 2014 and 2015 classes.
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The updated ESPN 25 for the Class of 2016 is again led by center Thon Maker (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle School), who is the top prospect. Three prospects have joined the rankings: Center Udoka Azubuike (Jacksonville, Fla./Potters House Christian), point guard Derryck Thornton (Chatsworth, Calif./Findlay Prep) and small forward T.J. Leaf (El Cajon, Calif./Foothills Christian), and many of the returning players have continued to improve their games which ultimately makes the 2016 class better as a whole.

Here are 10 things to know about the prospects in the Class of 2016:


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Mustang Madness recap 

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
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The inaugural Mustang Madness held at the new McCracken County High School in Paducah, Ky., was quite a success. The tournament is run by the same crew that puts together the famous Marshall County Hoopfest.

[+] EnlargeCliff Alexander
AP Photo/Damen Jackson/Triple Play New MediaCliff Alexander is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 100.
Beast of the East
Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie)
2014, PF/C, 6-foot-9, 240 pounds
Signed with: Kansas
The big fella was his normal, dominant self in Curie’s victory over Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, scoring 25 points. There is no more athletic and productive insider in the country. He has a solid touch and should be able to become an effective face-up player in time. He reminds me of a young Amare Stoudamire.

Best Improvement

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All eyes are on Thon Maker (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle School) every time he takes the court.

Thon Maker
Courtesy of Jerry HoltThon Maker, the No. 1 prospect in the 2016 ESPN 25, is working on improving his post game this season.
That happens when you're ranked as the top prospect in the country.

The No. 1 prospect in the 2016 ESPN 25 has lived up to the billing this season, and he certainly had the look of a top-ranked prospect in a 60-55 loss to Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy on Friday.

The 7-foot Maker flashed all of his skills when he went up against Oak Hill Academy guard/North Carolina State signee Caleb Martin and 2015 ESPN 60 No. 51-ranked player Trevor Manuel.

“Maker is tough,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “He made a couple of 3s in the first half. He’s highly skilled for his size, obviously. If I coached him, I would like to see him go down low a little more. They say that’s not his game, but he needs to add that to his game if it’s not. He’s highly skilled. I mean, he can put it on the floor, he can shoot it ... and I can’t tell how well he passes it. He’s an awfully good player.”

Maker, who has only been playing basketball since 2010, has immense talent. And he has a road in front of him to be the player he wants to be. His No. 1 ranking isn’t changing how he approaches things.

“It just means that I’ve got to work hard,” Said Maker. “I’ve got to work hard every day and know that there are other people behind me trying to take my spot. At the same time, I have to produce, and that is what I’ve been working on."

“Thon has made tremendous strides since last year,” Carlisle coach Jason Niblett added. “He’s getting more fluid putting the ball on the floor, knocking down jump shots, where last year, he was developing that. He’s getting better every day. Ball-handling can continue to improve, he can continue to improve on his post game... it’s still a work in progress.”

This season, Maker has been working in the post, especially with his mid-range game.
“Well, I’ve figured out my spots and know where I want to catch the ball from,” he said. “Lately, I’ve been working on making plays off of those spots. Mainly from the 4-spot, high post, little bit of the high block [and] the low block.”

As far as Maker’s recruitment goes, it’s a who’s who of suitors.
“Probably the better question is who hasn’t,” Niblett said. “If I got into the list of schools that have offered, we would be here all night.”

One program that will definitely be in the hunt is Duke. Maker visited Durham in October for the Blue Devils’ midnight madness, and it made quite an impression.

“That was a special moment,” said Maker. “I went to Cameron and got to see the crazy fans they are and also got to talk to Coach K a little bit. He’s a wonderful guy. He gave me some advice. You have to work out with the right team, take the right shots with that team, work hard with that team and be around people [who] are going to work hard also so you don’t slack off."

“The fans were chanting my name. It was crazy.”

With a Carlisle schedule that has more than 40 games on the docket, finding the time to take unofficial visits can be a daunting task.
“Nothing [is] scheduled that I’m sure of yet, but it would be something local because we have a lot of games,” he said.

Among the possibilities for unofficial visits during the season are trips to Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgetown.

Along with those four schools, programs such as Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona, Indiana and Maryland have stayed in contact with Maker.

While it’s too soon for Maker to list his favorites, the style of play will be a definite factor in his recruitment. Freedom and a quick pace are keys.

“Well, I can basically change the whole situation," he said. "I can go fast paced. I’m able to run down, come off picks and make guys chase me because I’m quick and fast. Mainly people put the big 5s on me so I just have to use my quickness against them.

Maker, Adebayo star in John Lucas camp 

September, 30, 2013
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The John Lucas Midwest Elite camp attracts many of the top underclassmen in the country. The camp’s focus is on skill development -- the players go through various stations designed to help improve different parts of their game as well as compete in games. Here’s a look at who stood out:

Best Pure Scorers


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Five names to know in ESPN 25 

September, 24, 2013
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The Class of 2016 has a real chance to be one of the best classes in the last decade because of the sheer number of high-impact prospects. There are players in this group who are game-changers now and who have barely scratched the surface of their potential. Here's a look at five members of the latest ESPN 25 who performed well against older competition this summer.

Thon Maker (Carlisle School/Martinsville, Va.)

Maker has a chance to be really special because of his rare combination of enormous height (7-feet), length and advanced skill. He handles the ball and shoots it with finesse, and on the other end, he rebounds above the crowd and blocks shots at an elite level. Maker has a Kevin Garnett-like body and better skills at the same stage but his heart and toughness are yet to be determined. How his body fills out and how he continues to approach the game will determine how far he goes. He played on the 17-and-under EYBL circuit and performed extremely well.


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Ten things to know about 2016 ESPN 25 

September, 24, 2013
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The Class of 2016 is led by the super-talented trio of C Thon Maker, SF Josh Jackson and PF Harry Giles, giving this group an opportunity to be versatile and deep at a variety of positions.

Here are 10 things to know about the ESPN 25 Class of 2016, a small number of prospects who possess big-time potential.

1. Serious upside
The Class of 2016 first and foremost could be better than the Classes of 2014 and 2015. The early report card is tremendous not only for the top 25, but from reports coming in from around the country about players who have yet to be evaluated and added to the rankings when they are extended to 60 then 100. The overall talent and depth and the number of potential NBA players could be the difference.


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Notebook: Big weekend in Aggieland 

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
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Who’s that guy headed to Xavier? Buffalo? They landed a top-100 player? Plus who’s spending the weekend in College Station? All this and more as we empty the notebook.

Hanging with Johnny Football

[+] EnlargeJustise Winslow
Chris Williams/Icon SMIESPN 100 wing Justise Winslow is looking to visit Texas A&M this weekend and Florida next weekend.
The biggest football extravaganza this weekend takes us to College Station, Texas, where Johnny Football faces the best professional college team in the country, Alabama. Can you imagine how many recruits requested a campus visit that weekend?

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Elite 24 lives up to its name

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
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Emmanuel MudiayKelly Kline/Under ArmourThe Under Armour Elite 24 has always had top-level talent and this weekend's edition is no different, as ESPN 100 No. 5 player Emmanuel Mudiay is part of star-studded cast.
BROOKLYN, NY -- The 8th annual Under Armour Elite 24 game and dunk/skills competition will feature some of the nation's most outstanding basketball prospects. Previous games included top prep players such as Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), Brandon Jennings (Detroit Pistons), Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers) participated in this famed event.

This two-day event will take place at the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park under The Brooklyn Bridge.

Catch all the action live on ESPNU, with the Dunk and Skills competition Friday at 7pm ET and the Elite 24 game Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

5 Reasons to watch

1. Stars will be shining bright

The Elite 24 has been known for its star power, and this year's roster is stronger than ever. From top to bottom this game has the best players in the country regardless of class and position. This game has an abundance of gifted prospects, which is going to make it exciting and entertaining to witness as the best high school players go head to head.

The Elite 24 has 13 of the top 25 players in the 2014 ESPN 100 and 5 of the top 10, led by ESPN No. 3 Tyus Jones, No. 5 Emmanuel Mudiay and No. 7 Chris McCullough (Syracuse). The game also has a bevy of underclassman phenoms such as 2015 ESPN 60 prospects No. 1 Ivan Rabb, No. 2 Malik Newman and No. 7 Stephen Zimmermann, along with 2016 ESPN 25 No. 2 Thon Maker.

2. It's all about the matchups

Point guard: Jones vs. Mudiay
Jones is a pure point guard who has tremendous vision and makes great decisions. He is outstanding in handing out the assist in transition or when the game slows down. Mudiay brings outstanding size and athletic ability along with excellent penetration and passing skills. They're not only two of the best players in their respective positions, but two of the best in the nation.

Shooting guards: Rashad Vaughn vs. D'Angelo Russell
All-star games are about scoring points and these two guys do it as well as anyone in the 2014 class. Vaughn is always on the attack and can score with a long jumper or a finish at the rim. Russell is smooth and under control, always ready to launch his deadly long-range jumper. They are two of the best at creating their own shot when there is no offensive flow.

Small forwards: Kelly Oubre vs. Justin Jackson
Teammates for the AAU Houston Hoops, the battle between these two will be electrifying, as both are high-level scorers with great length, athletic ability and skill. Oubre is a dynamic finisher and will mix in some jumpers. Jackson is perhaps the best scoring small forward in the class, possessing touch and instinct from anywhere on the floor. Can Oubre contain Jackson's lethal mid-range jumper?

Power forwards Myles Turner and Zimmermann are two of the best frontcourt players in the country. Turner might be the best shot blocker in his the 2014 class and Zimmermann has tremendous skill for his age.

3. The college game looks better than ever

When this roster of players enters the college game it will bring with it excitement, skill, superior athletic ability and plenty of potential to the college game.

All of the players participating in this year's event are being recruited at the highest level. Turner is the hottest prospect in the nation and Jones being pursued by the likes of Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Some have already made their pledges, with Jackson, Joel Berry and Theo Pinson committed to North Carolina, Romelo Trimble and Dion Wiley pledging with Maryland, Chris Chiozza headed to Florida, McCullough at Syracuse and Russell to Ohio State. For the ones not committed yet their lists have been trimmed down, with college coaches and their fanbases will be closely watching.

The college game will continue to be extremely healthy. This list of prospects will influence and impact their future schools as well as the landscape of college basketball.

4. History lesson

This event has had numerous players go on and be successful in the NBA. When looking at the numbers, 37 Elite 24 players have become first-round NBA draft picks, with 23 ending up in the lottery, over the past eight years.

Three have become no. 1 overall picks: 2011 alum Anthony Bennett, 2009 participant Kyrie Irving and 2008 prospect John Wall. This year participants should add to that impressive list in the near future.

5. Last event of the summer

It seems as if the summer basketball circuit flies by each year, with so many players making a mark by competing and traveling around the country. As the summer season comes to an end, the Elite 24 gives players, college coaches, fans, and postseason all-star game voting members one last opportunity to view some of the best players in the nation on a national stage until their high school seasons begin. Many of the senior prospects will be candidates for postseason accolades and as the fall rolls around, so this makes the Elite 24 a special game.

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