Could Thon Maker be eligible for the 2016 NBA draft? According to his legal guardian, Ed Smith, he is and will be.
As reported by Adam Wells on the Bleacher Report, Ed Smith, Maker's legal guardian, has stated that Thon Maker will be applying to be able to take part in the 2016 NBA Draft.
“We believe that Thon has fulfilled the academic requirements to be eligible for the 2016 draft," outlined Smith.
"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 further added. "I’m happy to have placed him in the position to have this choice.”
For Maker, who had previously announced that he would remain with the graduating Class of 2016 at the 2015 NBPA Top 100 Camp at which he was named MVP, and again in December when he confirmed his intentions to head to college in his blog with Fox Sports Australia. The decision is made even more intriguing given that Maker has also made official visits to Kansas, UNLV, Arizona State and Notre Dame over the past month, teams that were considered the front-runners in gaining his commitment.
Despite indicating that he wanted to take part in the 2016 draft, Maker's immediate plans remain subject to a decision by the NBA on his request. Under NBA rules, players are only draft-eligible if they are at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school. Maker turned 19 in February, and as per Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, Maker reportedly graduated from high school in Canada in June 2015 and is now in his 5th year.
As a result of Maker's decision, he has also since withdrawn from the Nike Hoop Summit that commences later this week, an event also featuring fellow Australians Harry Froling and William McDowell-White. Maker's draft stock took a nosedive following a sub-par performance at the same event he participated in last year.
While the initial hype surrounding Maker following the release of his early mix-tape YouTube clips has subsided, the 7'0 center remains a tantalising prospect. With a skill set more aligned with that of a traditional wing, Maker boasts range to beyond the three-point line and great ball-handling skills for a player of his size. He still has considerable 'up-side' - something that NBA scouts and GMs are always looking out for.
An NBA scout has confided to Fox Sports Australia, that despite Thon not being fully NBA ready in areas like strength and offense, his talent would allow him to be a mid first-rounder, possibly even higher.
Given the current NBA rules surrounding draft eligibility, it is hard to fathom how Maker can be prevented from entering early in 2016. For now, we all must await the NBA's ruling in anticipation.