Notebook: Money Maker?

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

Does Maker demand similar shoe money to Mudiay?

Last year, Scout’s No. 2 player in the 2014 class – Emmanuel Mudiay – opted to play in China, rather than college at SMU. Now, there’s another player who appears to be a candidate for that type of move.

On Wednesday, Thon Maker announced that he was on track to graduate this year, which confirms that the 7-foot five-star prospect would head into the 2015 class. Now the topic of conversation has shifted to whether he will go pro, which his mentor – Ed Smith – has admitted is an option, or head off to Kansas, Kentucky or one of the other schools recruiting him.

If Maker does opt for the professional ranks, there will be interest from shoe companies, just as there was for Mudiay, who signed a sponsorship deal with Under Armour. One source told Scout at the time, Mudiay’s deal was worth more than $3 million, based on incentives related to his ultimate NBA draft position.

Would Maker demand similar type of money?

"Somebody would give him six figures," one source that works in the shoe industry told Scout. "It's not going to be the same type of money."

“Emmanuel was a point guard,” he added. “Thon can't sell a shoe like Mudiay potentially could.”

— Evan Daniels

Swanigan keeps on tripping

While the recruitment of Caleb Swanigan doesn't appear anywhere near being over, one thing is for sure, he is racking up frequent flier miles. Swanigan was at Purdue again on Sunday for their win over Nebraska, and tonight he’s at Duke for its game against North Carolina.

A visit to Cal is also in the works for the end of the month, and beyond that new and different schools are beginning to pop up in the mix. New Mexico came in to visit Swanigan last week, and he and his father continue to keep all options open.

No decision is expected until well after the season and all-star games, and there is no doubt that Swanigan will have a ton of information on all of the schools recruiting him before that time comes.

— Brian Snow

Point Guard roulette in 2016

Earlier this week we released our Ultimate Top 100, and as I wrote then, the preponderance of elite big men became clear.

But the situation at point guard is scary.

Only 15 of the 100 project to play that position in the long-term, and even some of those — including Kobi Simmons, Lonzo Ball and Justin Simon — arguably are more natural wings. Suffice it to say, then, major programs hoping to get a franchise floor general from will be competing for the same handful of guys.

Simmons is a top athlete who also possesses a jump shot

More specifically, of the 15 top-100 point guards, only five belong to the junior class. That’s an extraordinarily low number given the critical value floor generals bring to the college game.

Not surprisingly, the top two juniors — Derryck Thornton and Dennis Smith, both who are expected to attend Duke/UNC tonight — are waging recruitments featuring a battle royale among heavyweight programs.

Simmons is managing an intense recruitment as well, and Cassius Winston is the only blue-chip junior point guard located in the Midwest. Naturally, he’s entertaining a slew of Big Ten possibilities.

The fifth point guard among the top-100 juniors, Ball, already has committed to UCLA. However one assesses the current state of the Bruins’ backcourt, Ball and incoming 2015 guards Aaron Holiday and Prince Ali project as difference makers.

Obviously, the Ultimate 100 is reserved for only the highest of elite prospects, and numerous other big-timers are there to be discovered and recruited. But at the top, at least, the stakes are extremely high at the most important position on the college court.

— Rob Harrington

NBA scouts weigh in on BWB

A number of potential college prospects emerged this past weekend at the first ever Basketball without Borders Global camp, which took place in New York City.

On Tuesday, I featured Finnish star Lauri Markkanen, a 6-foot-10, 210-pound forward. According a number of NBA scouts in attendance and Draft Express analyst Jonathan Givony, Markkanen was among the top prospects at the event.

“Markkanen is a stud,” one NBA scout told me on Tuesday. “He's McDonald's caliber.”

The same NBA scout said Markannen, Dragan Bender, of Croatia, Isaac Humphries and Silvio De Sousa were the best prospects in attendance. Jamal Murray was also mentioned as a standout performer.

Bender isn’t expected to make his way to the United States for college basketball, but the other four certainly plan on it.

Other prospects that stood out to the NBA personnel we talked to included Dejan Vailijevic, Matt Freeman and Tom Wilson.

— Evan Daniels

Pope rise no surprise

One of the fastest rising prospects in college basketball is 6-foot-8, 205-pound San Diego State freshman small forward Malik Pope.

Once a 2014 prospect, Pope was a complete unknown until Scout watched him for the first time on April 21, 2012:

There are two full days in Vegas to go, but Pope is going to be tough to beat for breakout player of the tournament. The 6-foot-7 forward is long, athletic, can handle it in the open court, has terrific vision, plays hard and has a very good feel for the game. Pope is just 15 years old and looks like he's still growing. He wasn't even on the radar 24 hours ago and now he's one of the top prospects out west in 2014.

Over the course of the next year, Pope evolved as a player into a Top 20 guy, who exited his sophomore season as arguably the top 2014 prospect on the West Coast.

After that summer, when Pope was at his peak as a prospect, he broke his leg and a year later broke it again, missing almost two full seasons of high school and his last year of AAU.

When Scout did final rankings, figuring out what to do with him was not an easy task. Ultimately, we settled on putting him 36th in the 2014 class, despite having not seen him play basketball for two years.

As a freshman at San Diego State, Pope played limited minutes early in the career as he was still getting back in shape and recovering from injuries, but now he's getting more playing time and quickly showing the physical tools and skill set that made him an elite prospect early in his career.

On Feb. 17 at New Mexico, Pope was 6 of 10 from the field, scoring 16 points in 24 minutes, and he quickly has NBA scouts buzzing about his potential.

Whether or not he goes pro early remains to be seen, but NBA scouts are scrambling to do their homework because now that Pope is playing again, it's very clear what kind of player he could eventually be.

Knowing where to draft him - should he leave early - could prove to be difficult, given his limited on the court time and background of injuries. But given his history, it's certainly no surprise to see Pope getting this kind of NBA buzz already.

- Josh Gershon

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

Scout Hoops Top Stories