“We believe that Thon has fulfilled the academic requirements to be eligible for the 2016 draft," Edward Smith, Maker's legal guardian, told Bleacher Report exclusively. "He will apply for the 2016 NBA draft and await approval from the NBA.”
“Thon has been the hardest-working and the most astute kid I’ve coached in my 23 years of coaching," Smith said. "I’m happy to have placed him in the position to have this choice.”
Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com provided more details to the eligibility questions surrounding Maker. NBA rules require players to be 19 years old and a year removed from high school. While Maker turned 19 in February, he attends Orangeville Prep in Canada. Essentially, the NBA has to buy the premise Maker was part of the 2015 class and did a post-graduate year for him to be eligible for the draft.
Borzello cited sources saying that said Maker would not get an answer regarding his eligibility until he actually declared for the draft. He is still waiting for the confirmation, as of Sunday.
Maker has been at Orangeville Prep the past two years after attending Metairie Park Country Day School in Louisiana for eighth grade and Carlisle School in Virginia for ninth and 10th grade.
While Maker's winding recruiting saga may be a red flag for NBA teams, he also has to prove himself to NBA scouts after seeming to peak early on the showcase circuit. Coming out of the Nike Hoop Summit in April 2015, ESPN's Fran Fraschilla cited a report from Paul Biancardi, noting NBA scouts were "not seeing it" with the big man.
Things did turn around for Maker last July at the Under Armour All-American Camp, with Fraschilla saying he's "never not" seen Maker play hard and calling him a "high lottery pick in 2016." Maker also won the MVP awards at the 2015 BWB Americas All-Star Game and the 2015 NBPA Top 100 Camp.
Borzello pointed to some reasons explaining why Maker's stock has recently turned around:
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The NBA will ultimately decide if Maker is going to be available for teams to draft in June, but he clearly has enough raw talent and upside to be considered among the top-tier players in this year's class.