Prepare to Meet Thon Maker

There have been no notable challenges or sticky wickets to the NBA's no-more-players-straight-out-of-high-school draft rule in place in the last decade. The rule states a player must be both 19-years-old and a year removed from high school in order to be considered for the NBA draft (at least if you're a "non-international" player). But these regulations are under the spotlight for two reasons: 1) Thon Maker has declared for the NBA draft, and 2) The Internet is agog over Thon Maker.

Who is Thon Maker? He is a Sudanese player raised in Australia, came to America for high school, and last year enrolled in something called "the Athlete Institute" in Mono, Ontario, about two hours outside of Toronto. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled in a prep school in nearby Orangeville. Prior to enrollment, according to Maker's handlers, he did graduate regular high school in June of last year.

In reading about Maker, it's almost as if prep school is treated like a novel concept, which it isn't. There were plenty of prep schools where I grew up. It's like 13th grade. It gives you an extra year of PREParation for college. I'm quite surprised the NBA bylaws don't already address the prep school issue and whether it counts as high school or not, but apparently they haven't, so Maker and the world will wait the next few days for a decision from the NBA.

So why do people care? Aren't we a little tired of the surfeit of Sudanese-Australian-American-Canadian basketball prodigies?

Perhaps, but this is the internet age, and his highlight reel on YouTube is really, really impressive. Like many basketball fans, I've wondered about how revolutionary it would be if we found a seven-footer with the moves and range of a guard. This mixtape makes the case that Maker is that man. Deadspin says he has "maybe once-in-a-generation basketball skills."

But the thing about hype, and the thing about recruiting mixtapes, is that they are selective. Last year, he scored just 2 points in the Nike Hoops Summit (he'll try to better that on this year's edition, which will be played this weekend), and DraftExpress has him as the 44th best prospect off the 2016 draft. The NBA may give him the green light and he might not even be drafted.

Nonetheless, I do hope Maker does turn out to be that once-in-a-lifetime player, and even if not, the NBA should let him in the draft and rescind its 2005 rule and go back to allowing the Kobe Bryants and LeBron James to declare straight out of high school.

I appreciate that the NBA is trying to do something about stupid teenagers making stupid decisions, both basketball-related and otherwise. But the maturity marker between 18-years-old and 19 is an arbitrary one with no basis in reality (How many wizened 19-year-olds do you know that were idiots at 18?) The NBA is an American organization, and here we recognize 18 at the age of adulthood (except for drinking, of course). Much of the rest of the developed world puts it at younger than that. Let Maker make his mark.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site