Budding basketball star Makur Maker is leaving his options open ahead of next month’s NBA draft.
At the moment it’s not known whether the 211cm-tall Australian teenager will remain in the draft or choose to play a year with one of the several elite US college basketball programs keen to secure his services.
The 19-year-old’s immediate concern is completing high school this week in order to keep the college option open.
“It’s the last week,” Maker told AAP on Wednesday, in between economics, English and US history virtual classes at the Pacific Academy in Irvine, south of Los Angeles.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only forced students across the US to complete the school year online at home, but it has also shaken up Maker’s grand plan to impress NBA representatives in the lead-up to the June 25 draft.
Maker had planned to impress at the Nike Hoops Summit, Iverson Classic and other traditional pre-draft showcase events, but the pandemic postponed them. NBA teams may also be blocked from working out with players ahead of next month’s draft.
It could put Maker at a disadvantage against other prospects who can fall back on extensive video showreels, including Australian guard Josh Green, who played a year with the University of Arizona, as well as LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, after their stints in Australia’s National Basketball League.
Makur Maker wants to follow his cousin Thon into the NBA.Source:Getty Images
Key for Maker is ensuring he is a first-round draft pick. If it appears teams will not draft him in the first round he will take up a college scholarship, build up his draft stock and take another shot at the NBA next year.
Maker and his guardian Ed Smith are hoping the NBA allows face-to-face workouts with teams before next month’s draft.
“If Makur gets workouts with NBA teams he feels he will be a first-round pick,” Smith said.
The player’s cousin, fellow Australian Thon Maker, was so impressive during a pre-draft workout with the Milwaukee Bucks the team snapped him up with the 10th pick of the 2016 draft.
Maker is sharing a house in LA with Thon, now a forward/centre with the Detroit Pistons, and Thon’s brother Matur Maker, a forward with the NBA G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
The trio have been working out nightly at an LA basketball facility with former Sydney Kings big man turned trainer Anthony Susnjara, and Maker says he is trying to ignore the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m taking the same approach as if the coronavirus was not there,” he said. “I’m just getting my body ready and working on my skills.”
Once his immediate future is sorted out, Maker is keen to represent Australia at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“I want to play for Australia,” Maker, who was born in Kenya and moved to Australia with his family as a one-year-old, said.
“I grew up there so it will be great to put on the green and gold.”
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