SJ Takeout: Thon Maker

For a player as heralded and well exposed as Maker, ample mystery permeates his future plans.

Will he reclassify from 2016 to 2015? Will he play college basketball at all? A native of Sudan who routed through Australia prior to his arrival in the United States, Maker obviously has carries far greater international flair than your everyday elite American hoopster.

But before anyone can know for certain how his college recruitment will evolve, the present offers plenty of intrigue. Maker is, without a doubt, one of the most laterally gifted big men I've ever seen. He moves his feet side to side with almost shocking quickness and grace for a seven-footer, and his straight-line speed is jaw-dropping as well.

With physical attributes inhabiting such rare space, is it any wonder he's considered a contender for No. 1 in the Class of 2016?

He's hardly finished improving. Maker must find a way to gain strength, particularly in his lower body. He doesn't need to become a champion power lifter, just an athlete who can maintain his position against much stronger opponents. Right now, he's rail thin and will struggle at top level until he's able to gain weight and strength.

He also must continue to build an offensive identity. He already scores at the rim impressively and hits some facing jump shots, but he's not Kevin Durant and everyone needs to let go of that particular fantasy. Durant was a very different player at that age, a true perimeter forward, while Maker is more of a face-up center with extraordinary defensive versatility.

And that's rub. He doesn't need to be a three-point shooter or a crossover dribble artist; his gifts should enable him to dominate even without dynamic ball skills. As he learns to be more economical with his dribble — he should become a terror attacking from the high post — and jump shots, his efficiency will skyrocket.

Again, as a finisher, he misses more bunnies at the rim than you might expect. When he doesn't dunk, he can be disturbed by even mild contact. That's the strength issue surfacing. But he already does dunk plentifully, and offense isn't even where he excels most, anyway.

To reinforce the observation I made above about his ability to move his feet, Maker could play in the NBA based on his potential for pick-and-roll defense alone. He effortlessly slides around screens and poses a menacing threat as an aggressive, explosive trapper. Not many 6-1 guards want to attempt a pass around a seven-footer, and driving past him looms as a far greater challenge for them than versus nearly any other frontcourt defender they'll encounter.

Maker is playing this year for Team Loaded-Va., after touring with Boo Williams on the EYBL circuit last summer. That means he'll be at the Adidas Dallas Gauntlet for the live period this weekend, and suffice it to say he'll attract numerous interested onlookers from among the college coaching ranks.

Don't expect him to lack for attention at anytime soon, either.

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