Mike Brey keeps up pursuit of Thon Maker

Five-star power forward Thon Maker will sit back this week and watch other elite prospects come off the board. He plans to wait until spring before deciding and Notre Dame plans to keep up its chase.

Many other elite high school basketball prospects will fly off the board this week.

Thon Maker, five-star forward at Athlete Institute in Orangeville, Ont., plans to wait it out. Maker won’t sign with any program during the early period, choosing instead to do so in the spring after playing out his senior season. He won’t be alone, but most still sign in the fall.

Athlete Institute head coach Brandon Lesovsky notes make is yet to schedule any official visits, although some programs are edging closer to making that happen.

“He doesn't yet,” Lesovsky said. “I feel really strongly that he’ll visit Notre Dame and Arizona State, maybe Indiana. They’ve been involved for awhile. I know he’s got a little bit of mutual interest in KU. But the ones we’ve heard from the most are Arizona State and Notre Dame and Indiana.”

Notre Dame initiated its interest in Maker not all that long ago.

Mike Brey and assistant coach Anthony Solomon visited Athlete Institute in September to watch practice and visit with Maker. Offering a scholarship to teammate Nikola Djogo turned out to be an unexpected byproduct.

Djogo signed with the Irish on Wednesday as part of a three-man class that includes four-star point guard Temple Gibbs and power forward John Mooney, a one-time Florida commitment.

“I know that it’s not hurting Notre Dame that Nik’s going there,” Lesovsky said. “That’s not gonna be a big part of his decision but I know it helps because they’re pretty tight. Thon is just so open-minded about everything right now. He’s totally focused on finishing school, doing what he needs to do there and playing in our season that he really doesn’t talk about it much.

“I know that he’s got a ton of interest in Notre Dame. He likes that they have shooters. He feels like he would be a good fit for their style.”

Brey confirmed Wednesday hopes to sign one more player in the Class of 2016, pushing the recruiting haul to four even though there technically isn’t an open scholarship remaining.

Demetrius Jackson’s potential exit to the NBA is a factor in that choice.

Notre Dame remains involved with Maker and Jarrett Allen, a five-star center. Allen visited South Bend in October. He’s since seen Kansas, Kentucky and Houston with hometown Texas also involved.

Allen at this point remains unsure whether he’ll sign by next Wednesday or in the spring.

“Full speed ahead,” Brey said. “We’ve got some big guys we’re still on. We want to sign one more guy, that’s the goal. Could that be early? Maybe. Could it be late? Yeah, it could be late too. But I think we’ll keep evaluating seniors. And really since we’ve had the three commitments we’ve concentrated on the junior class too, so you’re into the next phase of juniors. But yeah, we’re full speed ahead on some big guys that are still available in the ’16 class.”

Maker will remain on the board throughout the season with his next opportunity to sign starting April 13, 2016. Lesovsky believes Maker, ranked No. 5 in the current Scout.com rankings, will be able to bear the brunt of that attention throughout the already ongoing season.

“He’s incredibly gracious,” Lesovsky said. “Very humble and thankful for everything that he gets. Going on the road with him is a very unique experience because everyone wants a picture and everybody wants a little bit of time with him. He takes it all in stride. He’s just, ‘Alright, that’s cool.’ Parents, coaches will take pictures with little kids. He just takes it all in stride. You never see him hang his head when someone asks for a picture or anything like that. It’s incredible.”

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