The biggest challenge for Thon Maker comes away from the basketball court. Maker is considered the best player in the Class of 2016, but he's still trying to adjust to his newfound media attention. Maker wants to be a kid, even though playing basketball is what he would like to do as a job in the future.
The first big decision facing Maker centers on reclassifying. He can either stay in the Class of 2016 or move up a year to become an incoming high school senior and graduate early. Maker has weighed some of the pros and cons of moving up at the NBA Top 100 Camp, taking place this weekend in Virginia.
"You will get to go to college early and that is one thing that excites me," said Maker, who excelled in Day 2. "It is still 50-50."
The kid has a lot ahead of him basketball-wise, but it hasn't stopped many people from comparing him to Kevin Durant. Maker doesn't invite the comparisons. When one reporter asked him about it, he said he's not even thinking about the NBA. Maker is just trying to be a regular teenager while staying as low-key as possible amid the on-going recruiting frenzy.
Maker has grown tremendously on the court, both in the post and on the perimeter, and he's working hard to improve. He went into detail about how he has grown from last year to this year.
"I have been able to dominate from the pitch post area therefore teams can not double me," Maker said. "I can find my teammates earlier with skip passes. So I find my areas. The defense can not settle on me and I have gotten a lot stronger."
Even though Thon is skinny, his body isn't dissimilar from Durant's. He can shoot well from the perimeter, too. It takes many players years to display the versatility Maker has already. He's only getting better. Maker's post-up game has really been impressive at the camp, too.
Kentucky, Duke, Georgetown, Louisville, Kansas and many more have made Maker their top priority. The recruitment for him is wide open. The media attention is just getting started. Maker made a reference to San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and likes to give short answers. The growing popularity is fun for Maker, but he lets his guardian Ed Smith do most of the talking.
Maker is also being a big brother and teacher. Matur Maker, the little brother of Thon, is being recruited by some major D1 programs and Thon has been giving him advice on how to handle the pressure that lies ahead.
"He has asked me about it, but he is just watching how I handle everything," Maker said
Recently, Maker was at the Team USA Eurocamp, which was a positive experience even if his team lost all three games because they was playing against adults.
"It was amazing," Maker said. "It was tough we lost all three games but we got to play against guys that are going to NBA."
Maker is a gym rat. When he is not in school, he is at the local YMCA working in the gym or sometimes he is at home playing NBA 2K. He is living the life of a teenage basketball star, but still likes to have fun. Just seeing him do interviews, he is really goofy and always smiling.
Maker has enjoyed bonding with some of the people at the NBA Top 100 camp. He said he's had a good time the first two days, and he's gotten a little more comfortable around the media as the camp has gone on.
For the future, Maker will be attending a few more camps and AAU stuff. Around August is when Ed Smith will shut it down, as he told me yesterday. Both are having fun with the process and the attention, but Thon wants time to relax and go back to being a regular teenager. The decision of reclassifying will pop up again when things are shut down. The discussion here at camp is huge and many people believe that he will move up.
Until then, Maker is just enjoying what it's like to be a high school basketball star. The NBA Top 100 camp has been fun for him so far. That's the way Maker wants to keep things.