Holy shit. Thon Maker has realised his dream, and a lot sooner than a whole heap of experts had predicted.
The ex-Sudanese refugee baller became the second Australian player selected in the top 10 picks, with the Milwaukee Bucks swooping on the 7-foot-3 centre/power forward.
Maker was born in the civil war-ravaged South Sudan before escaping at age 6 to Perth. At age 14, his basketball potential was discovered by coach American Edward Smith, who convinced his Perth host family to allow Maker to relocate to Sydney to continue his training and development. Smith eventually became the legal guardian of Maker and his younger brother Matur, which allowed both Maker boys to make the leap across to the United States, and subsequently Canada, to attend High School and continue their basketball development.
Thon has been the subject of some controversy, as he becomes a rare draftee to be taken straight out of high school, skipping the US college system altogether. NBA Draft eligibility rules state that a player must be a full 12 months removed from high school graduation in order to be picked (the so-called college “one and done” rule that Ben Simmons utilised). However, Maker stayed back at high school for a year after his “official” graduation in order to be near his brother.
Questions had been raised about Thon’s actual age, with rumour speculating that his listed age of 19 was wrong and that he could be as old as 24, in actual fact. The rumour was reportedly strong enough to have some teams rule out taking him in the first round altogether.
However, this apparently did not phase the Bucks, who under head coach Jason Kidd have developed a reputation for calculated risk-taking when it comes to draft picks, such as Greek gun Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Maker’s height and raw talent make him an extremely interesting prospect, and compliments a Bucks lineup that lacks height and polish in the centre.
Go get ’em, Thon! You beaut!
Photo: Kelly Kline/Getty.