High school phenom Thon Maker has been officially cleared by the NBA to enter the 2016 draft, according to ESPN's Chad Ford. Maker will become the first player to jump straight from high school to the NBA since 2005, when the league established the one-and-done rule.
Maker's case is unique, so the NBA allowing him to enter the draft doesn't change the rule that, in order to be eligible, a player has to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school. Maker was born in February of 1997 and, according to his guardian, graduated high school in June of 2015 despite staying at Athlete Institute in Ontario, Canada for a fifth year of high school. It was a complex situation that opened itself to interpretation.
Clearly the league has accepted Maker's qualifications and will allow him to enter the draft. This decision could provide a template for other players who don't want to play college basketball and hope instead to move from high school straight to the NBA. In fact, this ruling could have an impact on this very draft, as another fifth-year student, Jonathan Isaac, was considering entering his name.
While Maker got his wish, it's unclear where he ranks in this draft class. He gained notoriety thanks to a viral mixtape but there's been growing skepticism among scouts as to how good a prospect he really is. The unique skill set he has for someone of his physical profile, however, will earn him some close looks.
Maker measured at 7'0 and 220 pounds in 2015 and has a high motor and perimeter skills on both ends. Big men who can space the floor and move their feet on defense have value in the modern NBA and Maker has the potential to be that type of player a few years down the line.
It will be extremely interesting to see how Maker's draft process goes. Teams haven't had as many opportunities to scout him and his bust potential is high. Will that scare off suitors or will someone take a chance on him? Will he become a trail blazer, with others following in his footsteps if he gets drafted in the first round? Will the NBA work to close this loophole, considering Commissioner Adam Silver has been outspoken about raising the age limit, in part to prevent unknown prospects from entering the draft?
It's impossible to tell right now but we will have answers to those questions soon enough, now that Maker has been allowed to declare right out of high school.