The No. 2 prospect in the class of 2020 has been ruled ineligible for the 2019-20 high school basketball season.
Makur Maker, a serious Kentucky target, will not be able to compete as a senior after it was determined that the 6-foot-11 center had used up all eight semesters of his athletic eligibility, per OCRegister.com.
According to the report, Maker played as a freshman at Chaminade of West Hills in the 2015-16 school year, spent two years in Canada, and then played one season at Orange Lutheran for the 2018-19 school year.
After the news went public, Orange Lutheran head coach Chris Nordstrom told Steve Fryer of the Orange County Register that while it’s unfortunate that his star player will not be able to play this season, he feels Maker will still be able to carve out a successful career for himself.
“I’ve been fortunate to coach and coach against players who became NBA players,” Nordstrom said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy who works as hard as he does. My feeling is, with his gifts and that work ethic, he’s going to be successful.”
While it’s unfortunate that the five-star big man won’t be eligible to play this season, it does spark questions about Maker’s immediate future in basketball. There have been rumors of a reclassification to 2019 for the elite big man, though he told KSR at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA two weeks ago that he was certain he would be sticking with 2020.
At the time, though, he said it would be for basketball reasons.
“Definitely staying in 2020. Giving it one more year,” he said. “Since I had a year off [in Canada], I feel like I should get a year back and go on the floor and learn what I can do as a player.”
There have also been strong rumblings that Maker would head overseas, opting to play professionally one season before making a jump to the NBA.
In an interview with Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, refuted those rumors, saying the 6-foot-11 center will absolutely be playing college basketball.
“Everybody thinks he’s not going to college,” Smith said. “They’re like, ‘Ah, Ed’s going to send him pro.’ That’s how it is. … Everybody thinks he’s not going to college, but they’ll be trying to come in late when they figure it out. Then they’ll be behind the game.”
With news of his high school basketball career being over, does that change things?
Smith told Roberts that Maker still has two core classes to complete and a few necessary electives before he can officially graduate high school, making a reclassification impossible.
“So there’s no way he’s going to do it,” Smith told the Herald-Leader. “We’re deep in the summer. He’s not going to get it done. He’s not reclassing.”
While it might be too tight to get Maker on campus immediately, I’m curious if the five-star big man could use the rest of the summer and the fall semester to finish the coursework necessary to graduate this winter. In that case, he could potentially sign with a school and be eligible to play college basketball starting in January before ultimately (likely) entering the NBA Draft next spring.
No matter when he decides to play college basketball – if at all – Maker tells KSR that he definitely has his eye on Kentucky as a potential landing spot.
“They have a lot of great players that come through there. You know, [Karl-Anthony Towns], Boogie Cousins, from top to bottom,” he said. “Coach Calipari really takes care of his players, demands a lot, but in return, you have to go out there and get what you want out of it.”
He added that he appreciates how genuine John Calipari is as a person.
“Coach Calipari is a good guy,” Maker said. “He sat down with me and my guardian, spoke about some things, how they see me at Kentucky and how I fit. Just talking to me, personally. He was giving me tips. What it takes there to be on the floor, and what he would expect from me. He’s a good person.”
If 2020 five-star center N’Faly Dante falls through as an option for Kentucky in 2019, could Maker become one this winter?