“Best basketball ahead” for 2017’s Matur Maker

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While his older brother, Thon, has already become a household name among those who follow college basketball recruiting, Matur Maker is proving that he’s more than capable of making a name for himself.

Thon Maker has the attention of the nation’s top programs and is already being pegged as a potential No. 1 overall pick when he becomes eligible for the NBA draft.

The younger Maker, a class of 2017 prospect, is beginning to emerge as a major prospect in his own right.

Both Makers, who attend the Carlisle School in Virginia, came to the United States from Australia with coach Edward Smith, the guardian for both players. Originally from the Sudan, the family moved to Australia when Thon was six. Smith said the family now goes back and forth between Australia and South Sudan since it became a new nation in 2011.

“Thon came to live with me when he was 13. I had run an academy in Sydney,” Smith explained last weekend at the adidas Gauntlet. “He came and lived with me. Ever since then, I’ve been his guardian and I brought him over here (to the United States). And after we had him over here and he did so well in school, his parents decided to send his younger brother to join the process.”

Matur, who is 6-foot-10, played well over the weekend in Fishers, averaging 7.2 points and 4.4 rebounds for Team Loaded Virginia, which finished the second adidas Gauntlet stop with a 3-2 record.

Interest in Matur has picked up recently as Indiana was the first school to offer a scholarship to the rising sophomore earlier this month.

“Coach (Tom) Crean really felt like, ‘hey, he’s going to be really, really good, we want to get involved with him early,'” Smith said. “Matur’s best basketball is ahead of him. He’s put on 20 pounds — you can’t really tell — since he’s been here. He’s going to be really good. He’s different (than Thon). He’s more of a slasher. He’s quicker and he understands how to get to space.”

A built-in advantage for the younger Maker is that he trains with his older brother, who is rated the No. 3 prospect nationally in the 2016 class according to the 247Composite. Thon Maker is also two inches taller and arguably the best rim protector in the country.

“He’s getting better. He’s growing every day,” Thon Maker said of Matur. “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 Smith and I are putting in with him and he’s picking up things a lot faster.”

Both players have sacrificed being away from their family for the opportunity to come to the United States and pursue a dream, but Smith said they remain in regular contact with their parents.

“Their parents come from a soccer background, so they understand sports,” Smith explained. “When they first saw me come and get involved, they said ‘hey, if you really think he’s going to be that good,’ they had the mentality of a soccer manager taking him and guiding him through the process.

“One of the things they understand is that you have to train and you have to get better. They trust that you have to get better and stay engaged.”

(Photo credit: Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch)

  • PDXHoosier

    I hope Mr.Smith hasn’t bought any IU bumper stickers in the past 30 years

  • Caleb Moore

    Cant hurt with Thon to offer his little bro. But Matur seems like he’s headed for a heavy recruiting battle in his own right. Just glad to see us throwing in with the big dog programs to try and pull these top 10 kids. Especially with the bigs. We are about to put our 2nd big in the lottery in 2 years…..kids notice that…..dont shrink from the challenge when you have cards you can play.

  • CreamandCrimson

    “Matur’s best basketball is ahead of him”….he’s in the Class of 2017, I should certainly hope his best basketball is ahead of him.

    Anyway, the cynic in me is thinking: I wonder which major program will be hiring Edward Smith in the somewhat near future?

  • Gregory Spera

    Indiana just happens to have an opening…

  • SCHoosier

    What should be ahead of this young man is five mandatory meals a day at the training table. Obviously has a one and done future if he works at it like his brother has.Do have to say he has more b-ball coordination at his age than Tijan-Bawa and PJ demonstrated in total.

  • INexpat2001

    Small point but South Sudan, not Sudan, became a new country in 2011.

  • PocketHoosier

    I personally don’t have a problem with a coaching position being used to draw in recruits, if they’re good enough to be considered for the position in the first place. If Edward Smith could only bring one of the Maker brothers but couldn’t recruit anyone else, that’d be a pretty poor hire and the program would suffer from a foolish decision.

    But, playing Devil’s Advocate, assuming that an assistant’s position were to be on the table for discussion, I would much prefer they extend that courtesy to Brad Leaf than to Edward Smith. Brad is an Indiana guy that went out west after school. He played for Evansville from 1979-82. He coached up his son T.J. into being one of the prized recruits of the ’16 class.

    That would be a sensible hire, even if T.J. wasn’t involved. Add in the fact that you could potentially bring the Leaf family back to Indiana and give T.J. the opportunity to continue playing for his dad and I don’t see how that could be a bad thing.

  • PocketHoosier

    There’s not a chance in hell that I want Ed Smith near Indiana’s program.

    There’s just something that never sits well with me with these people that promise the world to impoverished kids in exchange for granting guardianship. Smith already abandoned one of his “kids”, Ater Majok, after a falling out when Smith apparently withdrew Majok from UConn after disagreeing with the way he was being coached.

    Smith could do that because he was legally his guardian.

    I don’t think we want anything like that near the program.

  • PocketHoosier

    There’s not a chance in hell that I want Ed Smith near Indiana’s program.

    There’s just something that never sits well with me with these people that promise the world to impoverished kids in exchange for granting guardianship (and by extension, the lion’s share of their salaries if they make it big). Smith already abandoned one of his “kids”, Ater Majok, after a falling out when Smith apparently withdrew Majok from UConn after disagreeing with the way he was being coached.

    Smith could do that because he was legally his guardian.

    He had another instance (immediately preceding the Makers) where a Sudanese refugee (that is unnamed in reports) that Smith ‘represented’ was chosen for Australia’s Under 17 team but Smith wouldn’t let him play. There was a legal wrangle because the boy’s Sudanese uncle and aunt (unware of the concept of contracts) had signed over guardianship to Smith. The contract was eventually nullified, but Smith used it as a lesson on how to gain full legal control over these kids’ futures.

    There’s quiet concern that if Thon Maker tries to assert his independence (or tried to cut Smith out of his pro contract) the way Ater Majok did, Ed Smith would lean into him just the way he did to Majok.

    I don’t think we want anything like that near the program.

  • CreamandCrimson

    This long diatribe railing against Ed Smith (as a reply to my comment) seems to suggest you think I want him near the program…I hope that my comment didn’t come across that way.

    All I wrote was that someone will undoubtedly try to get Thon and Matur Maker to their school by offering Ed Smith a job.

  • PocketHoosier

    “…someone will undoubtedly try to get Thon and Matur Maker to their school by offering Ed Smith a job.”

    That’s exactly how they were brought over here from Australia in the first place, so you’re most likely right.

    “This long diatribe railing against Ed Smith (as a reply to my comment)”

    I realize you didn’t suggest that Indiana should…the comments merely dovetailed.

  • g_bo

    You can read?

  • INexpat2001

    You do know that webpages are often edited based on and after certain comments are made, right? Sheesh

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    It did read Sudan and it was fixed. No reason to jump on anyone over that.

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