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Thon Maker the Next Elite Big Man?

Thon Maker may never play one second of college basketball. The 7’1″ behemoth has now reclassified twice in high school and may ultimately decide to play professionally overseas for one year rather than risk his health in college; however, that does not detract from the immense talent that this young man possesses.

Maker has incredible height and length for a big man who, for all intents and purposes, plays like a guard. Maker’s incredible skills have drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett, two future hall of famers who redefined the way that the seven-footer is viewed in basketball. Maker is hoping that one day, he can live up to those comparisons.

Born in Sudan, it seems that Maker was always born to play basketball. He comes from a massive family, with his dad standing at 6’8″ and his mom at 6’3″, so it’s not surprising that Maker is 7’1″. However, as is the case with most athletes in Africa, Maker started off playing soccer at a young age. His family fled Sudan when he was just five years old and moved to Perth, Australia, as refugees. It was there that Thon first fell in love with the game of basketball.

When Maker was 14 years old, he was discovered by Edward Smith, a renowned African-American educator, who helps migrant children in Australia find opportunities through athletics. Smith previously worked with Ater Majok and Mathiang Muo to develop their careers, and after seeing a great deal of potential in Maker, decided to take him in. He offered to feed, clothe and educated Maker in Sydney, where opportunities for basketball development are more prevalent. He attended St. George’s Basketball Association, where he dominated on the court. Because of his incredible play, when the playoffs came around for St. George’s, Smith took Maker to a talent camp in Texas.

After showing off his skills to scouts over the course of a few days at the camp, Maker was left to decide where he would go to high school. While he initially settled on two different schools in Louisiana, ultimately the place where he found a home was the Carlisle School in Martinsville, Virginia. While at Carlisle, Thon averaged a double-double, adding a number of blocks and drawing the national spotlight from coaches around the country. His movement as a seven-footer eclipses anyone in his class, leading many to believe that he is the top big man for the recruiting class of 2016.

However, that kind of praise made Maker want to accelerate his career, and thus he announced last season that he would reclassify to the class of 2015. According to Maker, he wanted to accelerate his college decision and subsequently move on to his pro career. Nevertheless, his reclassification didn’t last long, as he decided to leave Carlisle, and enroll at Orangeville Prep in Ontario, Canada. As a post grad, Maker will have to focus solely on basketball, and prepare for the next step in his career as either a college or professional basketball player.

Maker’s decision has been discussed at length in basketball circles, and still no one knows what he will do. Blue blood schools will be recruiting him nonstop. He will certainly have the opportunity to play overseas in Europe or China should he choose to do so. There’s even speculation that after his post-graduate year at Orangeville Prep, he will be eligible for the NBA draft.

Regardless of what Maker chooses one thing is clear: this is an immensely talented big man with a ton of upside. It will certainly be interesting to see what route he chooses and see how he develops in his career.

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