Thon Maker, the 7’1 Sudanese-Australian centre, will not represent Australia at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships in Heraklion, Greece later this year, according to his guardian.
Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, who has been known to be a controversial figure, mentioned scheduling as the main issue.
“Our school year ends June 23 in Canada. We have not made one practice in Australia yet due to his academic workload and our national schedule [at Orangeville Prep].”
The news was first reported by SNY.tv.
Maker’s availability for the tournament has always been in question, with rumours surfacing that he may naturalise as a Canadian citizen. Those rumours are yet to be confirmed – with Maker and his guardian re-iterating their intent to represent Australia in international play. It must also be noted that Maker isn’t eligible to play for Canada at this tournament.
Thon’s younger brother, Matur, who is a 2017 prospect, is likely in the same predicament.
Last year it became known that Thon was in the process of reclassifying to the Class of 2015. His decision is expected to come on Friday.
This news comes at an interesting time, with Adam Caporn making comments earlier in the day about the availability of the US-based Australian players – sounding quite positive with the process thus far.
“I can’t really confidently say [yes] on any of the guys in the U.S. We’ve tried to set up our schedule so that they have a great chance to play for their country. Obviously it’s up to them to commit,” Caporn said in a comment to FIBA.com. “I don’t think it’s a good time for me to comment on that. I’ve been in touch with all the Australians in U.S. colleges and prep schools. Certainly they will be given the opportunity to make the team.”
“All the guys want to play for their country and most have done so in the past. So, all of my communication has been positive. And I hope it works out. It will be a question of logistics, of getting everyone together and making sure that they’re available to prepare. There will be a challenge in that. But the athletes themselves have been really positive and shown a desire to compete in that incredible tournament.”
Ben Simmons (Montverde Academy), Isaac Humphries (La Lumiere School), Deng Adel (Victory Rock Prep) and Jonah Bolden (UCLA) are among the top Australian players that are currently based in the US that are yet to commit fully to the Emus campaign.
A development that was seemingly beneficial for all parties was changing the location of the practice games from China to Europe. With players and coaches scattered across the globe, this is Basketball Australia’s attempt to find a ‘middle-ground’ to get as many athletes as possible involved in the campaign.
Representatives from Basketball Australia weren’t immediately available for comment.
The 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship (Men) will be held in Heraklion, Greece from June 27 to July 5.