CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Thon Maker is the most popular high school basketball player in America when it comes to the casual basketball fan. Because of the hype surrounding a mixtape of Maker made well over a year ago — which unfairly compared the high school big man to Kevin Durant based on some highlights curated over months of game footage — he’s become a household name with American basketball fans.
The last few months for Maker, however, have been a whirlwind. The 7-foot-0 big man enrolled at Orangeville Prep in Ontario before last high school season. He tried as hard as possible to graduate early and enroll in the Class of 2015 so he could play college basketball early. That didn’t quite work out. There were even long-standing rumors Maker would try to graduate this December and enroll at a college for the second semester of the 2015-16 season.
All of those reclassification rumors were put to rest on Thursday as Maker told a group of reporters, including NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster, that he plans on playing the entire 2015-16 season as a high school player and (potentially) enroll in college after. The news of Maker staying in high school is significant because a potentially talented contributor won’t suit up in the college ranks next season.
Staying in high school for another full season also seems to have given Maker the freedom to be a kid and a basketball prospect again.
After some sluggish play during the high school season, Maker has started to play in some recent events and it’s come to a pinnacle at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this week. He’s been arguably the best player here. Maker leads the camp in scoring at 17.8 points per game and was particularly impressive in Thursday night’s camp win. Maker went for 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting (2-for-3 3-point) and hit numerous tough shots while also snaring seven rebounds.
He’s run the floor hard, looked like a complete offensive weapon and also protected the rim. Now that Maker is in the Class of 2016, if he continues to play like this, he’s going to be in the discussion among the best prospects in the 2016 class.
— Playing with Maker was Class of 2016 point guard Xavier Simpson, who had a strong evening session with 25 points (11-13 shooting), four assists and three rebounds. Simpson shook off a rough morning session to have an efficient outing where he scored from multiple levels, set up teammates and looked good in both the open floor and half-court settings.
— Class of 2017 big men Nick Richards and Mohamed Bamba both showed ridiculous flashes of potential on both ends of the floor on Thursday night, but both big men received minimal offensive touches thanks in-part to shot-happy guards.
— Speaking of shot-happy guards, there are plenty of them at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this year. While guards always have a propensity to shoot a high volume of shots in the camp setting, this year’s camp seems to be as bad as ever in terms of some players looking to get theirs each time they get minutes.
— New York native Shamorie Ponds has put up good scoring numbers this week after also being a high-level scorer with the New York Lightning in the Nike EYBL. The lefty guard went for 16 points on 8-for-15 shooting and did much of his damage in transition.
— Class of 2016 power wing Deshawn Corprew went for 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting on Thursday night. Corprew put together a productive spring with Boo Williams and always plays with a high motor every time he sets foot on the floor.
— Udoka Azubuike, a monster of a Class of 2016 prospect, nearly brought down the rim with one powerful two-handed dunk on his way to 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting. The big man’s power moves have been tough to stop in the early part of camp.