When it was announced by Thon Maker a couple weeks ago that he would apply for entry into the 2016 NBA Draft, many questioned whether or not the NBA would allow him into the pool. With the rule for non-international players being that in addition to being 19 years of age, they also had to be a year removed from graduating high school, did Maker meet the requirements?
Thursday afternoon the NBA gave its answer, declaring Maker eligible for this year’s draft. The news was first reported by ESPN.com.
As a result, Maker and legal guardian Ed Smith can continue with their plans of moving to the professional ranks without having to deal with the questions that would arise had the application for inclusion been denied. The bigger question at hand is how this will impact the decisions of future prospects, and how college basketball will deal with such possibilities.
The key in the decision regarding Maker is that he was ruled to have satisfied the “one year removed from high school” qualification. While the ability of taking a fifth year at a prep school in order to meet that requirement may appeal to some elite players, there’s the need to actually graduate from high school and not all players get that done. Ultimately there may be a couple players and their families who look to enter the draft without having to play college basketball, but the number’s unlikely to be high enough to do serious harm to the college game.
Some may ask why a player would want to avoid college, and a lot of that has to do with what Skal Labissiere and Cheick Diallo encountered this season. Playing on that kind of stage, where you can be evaluated on a daily basis through practices and games, can lead to a prospect being “exposed” and harm their draft status if they aren’t physically (or mentally) ready.
While the smaller sample size that comes with not playing a college season would add to the mystery of a prospect, that can work as a positive as well. Players can control more of the variables in that case, which would appeal to some.