Top basketball recruit Thon Maker announced Sunday his intentions to enter the NBA draft straight out of high school.
The 7-foot Maker is considered one of the top college basketball recruits this offseason, but it appears the lure of a lottery pick and the money it entails was too much for the 19-year-old who was brought to the U.S. from Australia in eighth grade.
However, there is one thing which might keep Maker from being on team’s lists when the draft rolls around in June. The big problem is there’s no way he should be considered eligible for the draft under NBA regulations.
There are two basic requirements for NBA draft eligibility. The player must be at least 19 years of age and must be at least one year out of high school.
As previously mentioned, Maker is 19 as of this writing. However, he is also in his senior year at Orangeville Prep, a high school in Canada. Boom, request for eligibility denied, right?
Well, Maker’s camp is going to argue he could have graduated last year, but wanted to stay a year and play with his brother. As noble as that is, the fact remains he is not a high school graduate yet and I feel it should be counted against him.
If Maker is allowed to become eligible, it will set a dangerous precedent for future recruits who want to forego a year of college and could potentially lead to players bending the rules in any way possible to prove they graduated high school a year before they actually did.
More importantly, it might be better for Maker to spend a year in the NCAAs at a quality college basketball program.
I can’t speak for the quality of Canadian high school basketball, but I imagine it would be a massive jump in difficulty level if he were to go straight to the NBA. A year in college would allow him to adapt to the rigors of higher level basketball at a better pace without him being thrown to the wolves and burdened with the expectations of a top pick right away.
If for whatever reason he doesn’t want a full ride at a college, he also has the options of travelling overseas and playing in Europe for a year. He wouldn’t be the first player to do that either.
Brandon Jennings is the most recent example as he played for a team in Italy for one season before returning to the U.S. Jennings was the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and has gone on to have a solid career as a guard for the Bucks and Pistons.
Maker has the potential to use the same formula for even more success given his height and his perceived value coming out of high school.
In the end, the decision is up to the NBA as Maker wants to start getting paid now. Here’s hoping the NBA asks him to wait for a year.
It might be the best thing for Maker in the long run.