adidas Gauntlet Q & A: 2016 center Thon Maker

  • 05/19/2014 10:36 am in

FISHERS, Ind. — It’s not hard to notice class of 2016 Carlisle (Va.) big man Thon Maker.

The Sudan native has a unique skill set for a 7-footer that allows him to shut down the paint defensively while also playing both inside and outside offensively. Maker, who moved to Australia at the age of six, has lived in the United States since he was 13 with his guardian, Edward Smith.

Rated the No. 3 player nationally by the 247Composite, Maker will have his pick of schools when it comes time to make his decision. As the headliner of the new adidas Gauntlet circuit, Maker made the move from Boo Williams on the Nike EYBL circuit to Team Loaded Virginia this spring.

Maker talked to the media about a variety of topics on Friday night at the Best Choice Fieldhouse and a complete transcript of his comments, including his thoughts on Indiana, is available below:

On the move from Boo Williams to Team Loaded:

“It allows me to move around a little bit more and just establish my game a little bit more.”

On his progress as a player:

“I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I’ve worked on my shot a lot, trying to perfect it. I work on my ball handling and just being a complete basketball player.”

On how much weight he’s put on since the beginning of the high school season:

“I would say 15, 17 pounds.”

On where he wants to improve the most:

“Just overtaking the game, basically. Just dominating the game and just coming out with that winning attitude to overtake the game.”

On where he is defensively and where he’s trying to get offensively:

“Defense is always going to take care of itself. That’s on lock already. If you can’t defend, you can’t play anywhere else, in any league. That’s automatic. Offensively, that’s where you’ve got to put the things you work on in practice, put everything together and be able to use your energy on both sides.”

On whether he has a defined position on the floor:

“I just want to be a complete basketball player and dominate the game from there.”

On whether he patterns his game after anyone in the NBA and who is favorite player is:

“I let the media handle that. I just play basketball. I watch the NBA a lot. It’s by far the best league. I would say KD (Kevin Durant). Same build, but then again I’ve got to have the same mindset of a Kevin Garnett or a Kobe Bryant, just that killer instinct.”

On the sacrifices he’s made moving to the United States at 13 and his plan basketball wise to pursue his dream:

“I stopped being normal, as people say. I just have a straight up dream and block out everything else and just try to get to it the best I can.”

On whether he’s had a chance to visit any schools:

“Last weekend or the weekend before, I visited Miami. It was just right down the road from where we stayed at adidas Nations. That was a beautiful campus. I would say I’ve visited six or seven schools (total).”

On how much he’s concentrating on the recruitment process:

“It gets serious now, right after the AAU season. Your junior year, that’s basically when you really need to assess schools and begin to work on your decision after that.”

On what he’s looking to find in a school:

“It has to be the best fit for me. I’ve always talked about my style of play, but teams will adjust according to what they need. Then again, I just have to look for the spot that fits me best.”

On the scholarship offer from Indiana and the offer for his brother, Matur:

“We were on our way to our camp (adidas Nations) and coach told me about it on the plane. He told me IU offered both of us. That was his first one, too, so I was like, ‘that’s special.’ That’s a good one.”

On whether he’d like to play with his brother in college:

“It would always be nice playing beside him. And also playing against him, making him tougher. Nobody else is going to be tougher on him than I am.”

On how Matur is growing as a player:

“He’s getting better. He’s growing every day. He’s picking up things pretty fast. He hasn’t gotten as much time to work on his fundamentals with the high school season going on and then right into AAU season. He hasn’t got much time, he’s using all of the time coach (Edward) Smith and I are putting in with him and he’s picking up things up a lot faster.”

On how his brother can grow working out with him:

“First of all, toughness. I go at him probably harder than I go at anybody else in the whole country. Coach always asks me, ‘why don’t you attack everybody else also like the way you attack him in our workouts?’ He’s learning to just take that in, use the same mindset and same work ethic.”

(Photo credit: adidas)

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  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Do you believe in miracles?

  • Bled4IU

    Thon, Matur, & T.J. Leaf, I think i would be happy with that!

  • Gregory Spera

    I was just thinking, reading this morning’s posts, that landing both Maker and Leaf in 2016 would be, just the two of them, the best class in the country.

  • MK

    Like a KD/Garnett hybrid. Not quite as fluid as KD, moves a little bit more like a big man – but the skill is there. Would be an amazing recruit to land.

  • Ole Man

    Honestly, I’d take either of them.
    Don’t see it though. They’re both basically one and dones; and I’m not sure CTC really goes after them as hard. I honestly believe, as a lot of us did, that Vonleh would be two years; and I think Coach thought the same.

  • ForeverIU

    And imagine with Yogi and RJ still in the backcourt, with maybe another killer scorer to replace JBJ.

  • ForeverIU

    I think CTC will not feel so bad about the one-and-done bigs now that we have two 4-year bigs to provide support in Tim and Jeremiah. That’s what he had in mind with Fischer, no?

  • CreamandCrimson

    Unless you plan on Yogi taking a redshirt season, he won’t be playing with Leaf, Maker or anyone else in the Class of 2016.

  • ForeverIU

    Lol, what a miscalculation! Is Leaf really three seasons from now? We’re quite a forward-looking bunch, aren’t we? Thanks for the correction.

  • CreamandCrimson

    No problem…I am finding it increasingly difficult to get excited about any 2016 prospects (even though guys like Leaf and Maker look terrific). Particularly after going through a 2014 class that was such a roller coaster and when we are in the midst of a 2015 class that hasn’t really had any action or movement to this point.

    But, in lieu of actual IU basketball action or news, I do appreciate ITH’s commitment to “feeding the beast” and providing us with content like this.

  • RMK

    I really don’t see JBJ leaving before his Jr. year. I put him in the category of great college player, solid pro. But his size is always going to provide a ceiling at the next level. So think of a starting lineup of RJ, JBJ, Troy, Leaf, Thon with Davis and Robinson seniors and Hoetzel and whoever else is on the roster at that time. Could be a brilliant mix of shooters, athletes, and elite talent.

  • ForeverIU

    Yeah, and I wonder if our coaching staff are thinking that an early commitment from someone like Leaf could boost our recruiting overall, even in the interim, if nothing but to keep our name floating among the five-stars.

  • RMK

    Agree with the Fischer part. 2 observations, 1) I think every coach is learning how to recruit in this transfer crazy climate. Its not just IU, players are leaving programs all over the country. And 2) for some reason I don’t see this kid going to a 1 and done factory like Kentucky. Maybe Kansas or Duke or somewhere, but I think he wants to stand out more than that.

  • FinEndNow

    Kevin Garnett.

  • marcusgresham

    The thing with getting Thon is that, even if he is a one-and-done, you probably have the advantage on getting Matur. I’m prepared to meet my Makers!

  • LiveIUBBall

    Any chance he can reclassify to 2014?

  • Gregory Spera

    If Thon wants to play with Matur, then he wont be a one-and-done.

  • ForeverIU

    Lol, I love IU basketball, but I wouldn’t trust it with my salvation.

  • FinEndNow

    I would just hope that he would still get to play a face up game and still play a little on the perimeter. We didnt use Vonleh enough on the perimeter even though he had good handles. But I would like to get him and Leaf(obviously) Maybe Braxton Blackwell or a another PG.

  • marcusgresham

    I thought about that, but that allure of the NBA is pretty hard to push aside sometimes.
    Getting one/both of these two can pay so many recruiting dividends if things go well. Look at Pitino–he had such success with Georgui Deng that he now has a pipeline of Sudanese big men because, a.) he made the kid a star, and b.) the incoming guys have someone to bond with/look up to/speak their native language. I know they were raised in Australia, but even still, there is a lot of talent there, as well.

  • Alford Bailey

    I’m not seeing it either at this point. But, if IU is ever gonna be a consistent player on the national scene again we have to land a few of these guys on a regular basis. Might as well start now. Crean really needs to make this next recruiting director a home run. Could be a game changer for our program.

  • Gregory Spera

    Our last recruiting director was a “home run.” Unfortunately, Pitino recognized that too.

  • FinEndNow

    Its never a bad idea to get some one and dones. You have to be open to it. Look at Kansas, Duke and Kentucky. They recruit some one and dones and they stay up high. Its great to try and get guys who are going to stay 2+ years but you gotta mix it with some even greater talent. Thon would probably be one and done. Leaf 2 and done.

  • SCHoosier

    Love his attitude about defense. A long shot..but I hope “Maker’s Mark” is made at IU. He would sure go down smooth with IU fans.

  • calbert40

    I’m watching what happens to Harris in the draft. I think JBJ is similar in many ways to Harris (not quite the defender, though). Harris looks like an end of the lottery type right now. If that happens, and JBJ’s career has a similar arc, I could see him leaving after two years.

  • Snookafly

    I can definitely agree on the Harris comparison, but CBS just put up a mock that has him going at #8– one pick behind Noah.

  • Snookafly

    I’m curious as to why we weren’t talking about Thon sooner. I realize he’s still young, but there were national articles/videos about him months ago. Factor in his connection to Boo Williams, and I’m kind of curious why we are coming in relatively late compared to some of the other big boys. Was Kenny sandbagging? He’s listed as his contact for Louisville on 24/7. If so, that’s a dirty move.

  • Ole Man

    Hoping these recruits are of the caliber that we think Fischer is/was.

  • Caleb Moore

    Funny to me how every kid 6’8″ or bigger mentions Durant when they discuss their games. There is ONE Durant. Think it’s more a kid’s fandom talking than it is reality. The guy is 6’11”, handles like a PG and shoots like a 2. Wonder why you dont hear more “yeah I like to model my game after Lebron”. Just easier for kids to see themselves as score first rather than be that all around player? Perhaps it’s because Lebron is so physically imposing? Rarely EVER hear kids talk about modeling after Lebron. It’s always KD and Carmelo.

  • calbert40

    That seems high to me, but this draft is fairly weak at guard. This is a deep draft at SF and PF. Let’s hope he falls!!

  • ForeverIU

    I want some of these recruits to come to the Garden and watch us beat Louisville with Kenny J and Rick P biting their fingernails on the sidelines. And I want Mini P to be saying: “If they beat my Daddy, how in heck do I stand a chance?”

  • Alford Bailey

    Well, thats one of the reasons IU needed to leave the cupcake tray behind and put some more meat on the schedule. Not much national exposure playing Kennesaw.

  • Gregory Spera

    ALL the players that Indiana University had been paying Kenny Johnson, for the past year or more, to build relationships with, now see him as their Louisville contact. IU got screwed.

  • SCHoosier

    Just part of the game..what’s KJ gonna do..ignore all those contacts for his new employer?

  • Gregory Spera

    You are correct. It is “just part of the game” in the cut-throat world of big time recruiting.

  • ForeverIU

    He’s 7-0 with what, two more years of growth? Will he have the quickness on transition that we need for our style of play? It seems to me like height becomes a liability beyond a certain point.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I see Durant standing out a little more than Lebron based on the fact that before Durant there wasn’t really someone like him. With his size, shooting, and ball handling ability all in one. I see Lebron and I think of people like MJ and Kobe. He falls in that line more or less

  • jmac

    Wowsers! He would be a great get, unfortunately with out KJ, I don’t see us having a chance. Although winning cures all, and it might bring a little more stability to the present coaching staff. We need wins in bunches, cause right now we can’t land a Purdue recruit lol!

  • CreanFaithful

    We’ll see how it plays out. But summer camps are doing a better job of getting measurements out there these days. While probably shorter than Harris, JBJ arrives touted with combo guard skills and a 6’8″ reach (longer than Gary). That will translate to the league. He is a PG. Gary Harris? That’s a big question on the minds of NBA GM’s right now…

  • 323SGrant

    Yep. Hopefully, CTC can turn things around recruiting wise. He needs to recruit impact players like JBJ and Rojo on the front line too.

  • MK

    I guess i don’t understand why KJ would make the difference in convincing this kid….

  • PocketHoosier

    Yeah. He poached Kenny Johnson at the most opportune moment in time. From what I understand, money was not a problem with keeping Kenny. The department was more than willing to reward his hard work. The problem came when Louisville threw “first assistant” at him and doubled his salary. In order to maintain the current coaching hierarchy with Crean, Buckley, McClain and then Kenny Johnson, Buckley and McClain would have had to have significant bumps in their salaries because while Johnson was very highly valued, he was not seen as first assistant coach. Coming off of last year’s result was the worst time to give the assistants an across the board raise in their salaries.

    The optics would have been atrocious.