Five-star Thon Maker talks Indiana, continued improvement

  • 08/05/2014 10:17 am in

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — One of the more highly-touted prospects in the 2016 class, 7-footer Thon Maker has had an impressive summer — picking up offers from Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Louisville, among others, and comparisons to Kevin Garnett.

This past weekend, Maker was in southern California for adidas Nations, playing for Team Lillard, the eventual champions in a 106-78 victory in which Maker scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the effort.

On Sunday morning, Inside the Hall spoke with Maker, the No. 3 prospect in the class according to the 247Sports Composite, following Team Lillard’s 118-72 win over IU target Derrick Jones and Team Howard, in which Maker recorded a double-double — 14 points and 14 rebounds in just 18 minutes of action.

Maker discussed his ongoing improvement, what he still needs to work on and his interest in Indiana:

How much have you enjoyed getting to play in these games? 

“I enjoyed it; definitely enjoyed it. Especially once we got the W after that, we just wanted to lock down first on the defensive end. And we held them to 39 in the first half and we had 60-something, so that says it all. We just wanted to get the W, and that’s what we got because right now it’s playoff basketball.”

What have been some of the things you have improved on over the summer?

“Just basically dominating the game, believing that you’re going to win the game and learning what you can do to affect the game.”

How satisfied have you been with your overall game, and where do you feel you still need to improve?

“I got better. I know I got better. I did OK a few times and then a few other times played really good. But not to where I always want it to be. I always expect more out of myself. I’ve got to improve on my body first. I have to get a little bit stronger, definitely that part, and then after that we’ll see.”

Which schools are recruiting you the hardest, at the moment?

“I don’t know, you would have to ask my coach that. If coaches want to speak to me, they call my coach and then he can pass that on to me.”

Obviously, Indiana is one of the schools that have offered you over the summer. What did that offer mean to you, and are you planning on taking a visit there?

“It’s a big offer, definitely. They are a great program and I don’t know about the visits — right now, we are pressing for time. There’s a whole lot of things going on and I’m trying to see the inside of the program by actually visiting and sitting down and speaking with coaches so I can really see what it is that they’re selling.”

What potentially is intriguing about the Hoosiers?

“Their coaching. Like Tom Crean, I’ve spoken to some of the media guys and I’ve been telling them about his late-game situations. And I’ve seen a lot of games on ESPN and other channels this past season and some old games of him coaching also where he’s always cool, but you can see his face is like something has come up. Like, ‘oh, OK. That’s the situation? OK, I’ve got this for that.’ I enjoy watching that every time. And the execution is marvelous.”

Are there perhaps any schools sticking out in your recruitment right now?

“There’s a lot of schools. But right now I’m fully concentrated on where I am right now.”

(Photo credit: Kelly Kline/adidas)

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  • NWI_Hoosier

    Interesting that a top recruit’s views of CTC’s in-game tactics are the polar opposite of many die-hard fans. Not saying one is right and the other is wrong… just an observation.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    He must’ve seen the Wat-shot tape over and over again.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I’m trying to decide if he’s being cryptic about the process because he doesn’t want to tip his hand or if it’s because he doesn’t plan on visiting IU.

  • ForeverIU

    I think what he might be saying is that in the end it’s about the confidence that a coach inspires in his players at game-time. I think sometimes we overthink game situations (the x’s and o’s), when really what’s needed is charisma and leadership. I think CTC is good at that.

  • chiv86

    He has probably seen a lot of the more popularized IU games in the past 2 years on ESPN, ABC, etc. We’ve won alot of those marquee games in the past 2 seasons and CTC has looked like he’s had a plan in those games. I think we fans always knew CTC is great at preparing for games if the other team plays their normal style/tempo…problems that we fans notice is when things don’t go according to the game plan and CTC might look a bit lost…take games against Wiscy, Cuse as examples. All depends on what games Thon has watched.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Like the game against Michigan where we won the B1G outright would’ve been a good example of confident coaching in the closing minutes.

  • RMK

    I also think that die hard fans of a team are much more critical of the negatives and supportive of the positives than the national perception is. Its just the nature of being a fan. I read an article recently about the Pacers and it mentioned that George Hill actually has a pretty good reputation and is held in high regard by many front offices around the league, while the Pacers fans would tell you that he can’t run the point and he was borderline awful down the stretch last year. Its all about perception and emotional investment.

  • yimyames

    I’ll be surprised if he even makes a visit. If somehow IU lands this recruit it will be huge. May be the biggest coming out of high school since LBJ.

  • Caleb Moore

    Why would you be surprised if he makes a visit? We’ve been the hardest on him and his bro in the last year, he’s always got great things to say about IU and Crean, and it’s Indiana. Perhaps that is just you tamping down your expectations. Yes, I agree landing him would be big… landing Vonleh was big, Blackmon, Zeller, Yogi, etc. He’s a really good player, so it would be big for us or just about any program. Biggest what since LBJ? While he’s drawn comparisons to KG because of his size and way he can move, he’s not KG. He’s not even the clear #1 in his class, forget clear #1 in the WORLD.

  • jmac

    We would have had a great chance for 15 when he was talking re classifying. Now that he is staying in 16, I doubt we get him.

  • yimyames

    Biggest story…hype, ect….

  • yimyames

    We may be the hardest now, not sure that is even a fact though. Will we be the hardest this time next year? Yet to be seen.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have him any other past recruit not named Victor.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    this would be a miracle….

  • hardly

    If I were Thon, pretty much all I would be looking for is a coach that wouldn’t get me injured. First school to offer him a 7 ft. bubble will get a commitment.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    the latest crystal ball predictions have swayed in iu’s favor quite a bit actually. we stole 3 votes from jerKS, and 1 from pUKe. that puts us in 2nd place percentage-wise and trending in the right direction, so who knows. stranger things have happened (LF to marquette).

    haven’t seen any footage of this kid, but sure is a lot of hype. could he be a program changer the same way CZ was?


    Some of the experts have him picked to go to IU. Anyone on board with them?

  • OhioHoosier

    He is better than Cody in my opinion.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    that’s a pretty bold statement Ohio. if we get him i hope you’re right.

  • FinEndNow

    Kevin Garnett like.

  • VanPastorMan

    He would be a great get. Come on Thon!!!!!!

  • Hoosier Pride

    more versatile than cody, dont know if I would say better,

  • Kyl470

    I refuse to allow myself to get exited about him until he signs with the team.

  • SCHoosier

    This kids..despite good intentions will end up being a “heart-breaker” for several teams who will recruit him hard. If he’ stays in the ’16 class..Maker is anybody and everybody’s priority target.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I actually agree with Yim. He would be the highest rated out of HS to come to IU (at least during the CTC era). It would be nice to get a top 5 recruit, even knowing he will only be on loan from the NBA for a year.

  • Oldfan

    i think he’s too fat.


    Thought maybe it was just me that got that vibe while reading the article. Here’s to hoping that it’s the first one. Him picking IU could possibly have a snowball effect on recruiting, and I know, I know people, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that he has to excel and show noticeable improvement during his stay at IU, even if it is just for one year, to get that snowball effect. If we are lucky enough to land him, my chips are on that he will show just that.


    Count me as being in that camp as well.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Nobody is “like” Garnett, James, Bryant or Durant. Maker is just about to enter his Junior year in HS, has a tremendous upside and admits that he needs to get stronger. Before jumping up and down about a possible early commit, I would prefer to wait & see how much he improves and develops as a player. An early commit from him would give other schools too much time to play head games as with Trey Lyles–and we all know how that turned out for IU.

  • HoosierGrampy

    There are about 10 clips of him on YouTube–some from this year’s Summer Camps. Clips of him playing vs Myles (2014) Turner and Skal (2015) Labissiere show that this talented Sophmore holds his own versus a Top 10 Junior and Senior.

  • Displaced Hoosier

    Always been a little leery of recruits who speak TOO cryptically about where they are thinking of playing. It makes me wonder if certain recruits have Cam Newton parents ‘shopping’ them around looking for the richest deal. I hope the spirit of Knights academic legacy trumps big sports dollars.

  • yimyames

    UCLA just got a visit, hopefully it wasn’t an official.

  • Rie

    Hill could not run the point and was borderline awful down the stretch last year. On a different team, next to a ball-dominate two-guard, he would fit better; mainly as a 3-and-D guy. Now, without Lance and PG, there is not much hope in sight for that team.

  • Rie

    People said the same thing about Noah. Maybe in the long-run or in terms of a higher ceiling he projects better than Cody, but for the college level and the impact they make there, I find it hilarious people want to anoint these high school players as being better than a proven Hoosier great.

  • Rie

    Cody does not get credit for being able to hit three pointers when he made 0 in his entire career as a Hoosier.

  • Rie

    Anyone not on board with them/him?! This would be a huge get for Crean.

  • OhioHoosier

    At the same time, thon is a better rebounder, shooter, and ball handler than Cody was. He may not have the college impact that Cody had, but comparing the two as juniors in high school, I would say Thon is better now than Cody was then, did not mean to say he will be better in college than Cody was.

  • Rie

    Alright that makes more sense, haha. It was just such a broad initial post, and seeing as you are a frequent commenter, I am sure you have seen the same thing I was referencing. Some comparisons just get ridiculous around here.

  • ForeverIU

    I see your point. I think you’re saying how versatile a player CZ was, whether or not he was used that way. I think Thon has a similar game. In an interview he mentioned that he is now playing the 5 but hopes to work his way to a 3 and/or 4. You have to be able to run in Crean’s system, and Cody and Thon are similar that way.

  • ForeverIU

    Innocent until proven guilty, so yes I’m on board with them.


    Have watched Thon play 3-4 times and he is the fastest big man I have ever watched. I also played against CZ and he was fast, but not as fast as Thon. He can also shoot the rock.

  • OhioHoosier

    Yeah in all honesty the comment was made hastily on the phone right before leaving for somewhere haha.

  • b_side

    I don’t think you’re crazy, but perhaps a case of selective memory.

    The Syracuse and Wisconsin losses in 2013 have absolutely nothing to do with late-game execution. We simply lost those games, both out-played and out-coached wire-to-wire. The Butler loss is fair game, as is the loss vs. Penn State last season. I’m surprised you didn’t bring up the Illinois loss too where we lost on a layup at the last second (Cody’s fault IMO).

    But as one poster stated above, beating UM to seal (steal) the outright B1G title is a prime example of strong late game coaching. I would also add the road win vs. NC State in 2011, beating #2 OSU on NYE, defeating VCU in the tourney, beating Gtown by 10 in OT and MSU by 4 on the road.

    Sure we’ve had some ups and downs, but it’s not fair to Crean and the program to only harp on the downs.

  • Hoosier1158

    I am saying he can shoot from outside, but IU did not need him to do that.

  • ???? ???????

    I can only assue jmac thinks UK will be too full in 2015 to get Thon but will have plenty of space for him in 2016. Because everyone seems to think UK gets everyone or as most say “buys” everyone.