NCB On The Trail: Thon Maker

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The big news of the day didn’t necessarily happen on the court, but was instead a confirmation of Jeff Borzello’s report from last week as both Thon Maker and his guardian Ed Smith acknowledged a move to the class of 2015 was possible, and could potentially become official in the coming weeks.

Kentucky and Kansas are perceived to be the frontrunners for Maker’s services and John Calipari was front and center for Orangville’s (Canada) game. While Duke, UCLA, Missouri, and Indiana could all reportedly be in the mix as well, the potential still exists that Maker could bypass college altogether, moving back to 2015 only as a precursor to a post-graduate year before making an immediate jump to the 2016 NBA Draft.

As for his performance on the floor, Maker racked up 23 points and 11 rebounds but was largely not involved in the offense until the final minutes of the game. While his lack of touches never impacted his motor -- he ran the floor beautifully and rebounded out of his area all game -- he did force some things off the dribble at times, turning it over eight times as a result. Regardless of any inconsistencies in his performance, Maker’s sheer talent is downright staggering and almost immediately apparent even to an untrained eye.

Recruiting Roundtable: Hoophall Classic preview 

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
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The Hoophall Classic, a five-day event that features some of the nation's best high school teams and prospects, begins Thursday in Springfield, Massachusetts. Our experts discuss the biggest storylines heading into the action.


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Thon Maker's next move

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
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[+] EnlargeThon Maker
Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesThon Maker was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in 2016 before moving to Athlete Institute in Canada.
Four countries, three high schools, three AAU circuits.

Thon Maker, a 17-year-old 7-footer, is the vagabond of elite high school basketball.

South Sudan, Australia, soccer, basketball, school in Louisiana, school in Virginia, school in Canada. Just going through the bullet points is exhausting -- and that's without even mentioning Maker's unique talents and enormous potential.

Maker is the most intriguing prospect in high school basketball. He would be in the mix for the No. 1 spot in his class if he wasn't in Canada, but that's not what has attracted so much attention. It's the YouTube videos, the endless storylines -- and the comparisons to a number of NBA stars haven't hurt.

The chatter surrounding him has shown no signs of slowing down, either.

"It's the unknown that scares people," said Ed Smith, Maker's guardian.

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Kansas finally got on the board in the 2015 class Thursday, when five-star forward Carlton Bragg announced his commitment to the Jayhawks (after initially saying Kentucky).

There probably wasn’t any real concern in Lawrence about the lack of commitments in the senior class, but there is a segment of the Jayhawks fan base that breathed a slight sigh of relief late last week.

Now, where does Kansas go from here?


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LOS ANGELES -- We attended the Jordan Take Flight Challenge at the Jordan Hanger in Los Angeles, and here's what we saw.

1. DeAndre Ayton and Thon Maker are arguably two of the top 10 prospects in all of high school basketball and they impact the game in different ways. Ayton (No. 1 in the ESPN 25) is a traditional post player who snags rebounds, blocks shots displaying tremendous timing, and he can finish in transition like an Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) clone. Meanwhile, Maker is a hybrid 4-man who handles the ball extraordinarily well and his passing can be pin-point. On the other hand, Ayton needs to continue to refine his budding inside-out skills; Maker needs to get stronger while attacking the rim and rebounding in traffic.


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HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Don’t expect Thon Maker to be the next Emmanuel Mudiay.

Ever since Mudiay announced he was going to play professionally in China instead of attending SMU, there has been debate whether the star guard was starting a trend.

[+] EnlargeThon Maker
AP Photo/Gregory PayanThon Maker is considering reclassifying to 2015 and joining the American college ranks.
In Maker’s case, it appears unlikely.

“No. Not at all,” Maker said when asked if playing overseas for one season was an appealing option.

Maker, a 7-foot center who now plays at Orangeville Prep in Canada, is a five-star prospect in the class of 2016. He was born in the South Sudan before moving to Australia for seven years. When Maker began playing basketball, he moved to the United States and has attended multiple high schools since arriving in the States.

Because of his unique skill set and immense potential, Maker is a likely lottery pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft. But he made it clear he wants to spend time in college before making that move.

“I’ve been watching college ball for awhile, and it just causes me to think about that, reclassifying,” Maker told ESPN.com. “So I can get ready for college ball. But so far it’s been, ‘Get ready, get ready, get ready. Have your body ready.’ So as soon as I decide whether I’m reclassifying or not, I’m finally playing college ball – not [just] watching it.”

Maker is being recruited by most of the sport’s biggest programs. He and his Orangeville teammates toured the Maryland campus while in the area for this past weekend’s National High School Hoops Festival. Maker also has visited Kansas, Missouri, Duke, Kentucky and Louisville, while Indiana is among the other schools in pursuit.

As for the possibility of reclassifying, Maker said he would know more in January – when his semester ends and he can assess how much more work he would have to do in order to join the 2015 class.
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Thon Maker

HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- The Washington, D.C., area was the epicenter of high school basketball over the weekend, with multiple events going on near the nation's capital. The main attraction was the National High School Hoops Festival held at DeMatha Catholic (Md.).

Here are five key observations from the weekend:


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Recruiting has quieted down a bit since the end of the early signing period and the start of the high school and college seasons, but there are plenty of teams still looking for players. Where will these schools find them?

Available players

The most obvious route is the remaining uncommitted players in the 2015 class. We’ve gone over the top 100 players countless times, and while there aren’t too many of that caliber still on the board, that’s the straight-forward option for teams still in need. The premier programs in the country are gunning for the Jaylen Browns, Diamond Stones and Ivan Rabbs of the world, but lower-tier high-major programs and mid-major programs have to keep their eyes out. They’re looking outside the top 100 and will also be on the prowl for players set to emerge during their senior seasons.

As those borderline high-major prospects continue to wait to commit to a school, though, they see their recruitment rise significantly. And therein lies the danger for schools: The talent pool among seniors dries out, schools still need players -- and desperation kicks in. That’s when you’ll see programs reaching for players, just to fill a void or get a body on the roster. For new coaches taking over programs, it’s a necessary evil; they simply need guys. But in some cases, it’s better to hold onto a scholarship for next year instead of reaching for a guy who won’t cut it at the high-major or mid-major level and will therefore transfer or take up a scholarship for four years.


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NEW YORK -- The Under Armour Elite 24 game is loaded with ESPN Recruiting Nation ranked players from the classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 and can be seen at 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPNU live from Pier 2 of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Let's take a look at five matchups that we are most excited to see.

POINT GUARDS

ESPN 100 No. 62 Jawun Evans 6-foot, 180 (Dallas, Texas/Justin F. Kimball) vs. ESPN 60 No. 9 Dennis Smith Jr. 6-1, 173 (Fayetteville, N.C./Trinity Christian School): In this all-important lead guard matchup, it will exciting to see who will run their team, push the ball and set the tone. Evans -- a great finisher for his size -- has blinding speed and quickness and can get teammates involved. Smith beats defenders off the bounce with ease and is a playmaker for himself or teammates. He is a highlight finisher on the break who can simply put the defense on its heels and create help situations all over the offensive end of the floor.


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Five takeaways from Adidas Nations 

August, 6, 2014
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Adidas Nations, one of the final team events of the summer, finished its four-day run on Monday. The talent included outstanding players in the United States to top global prospects. In the championship game, 2016 adidas U.S. Lillard defeated 2016 adidas U.S. Wall, 106-78. 2015 adidas U.S. Howard won the consolation over team Europe, 52-46.

My five takeaways


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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

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The NBPA top 100 dream team 

June, 23, 2014
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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
6/22/14
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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
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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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