One of the top remaining big men and potential targets for Kentucky in the class of 2020 is likely off the table.
On Monday afternoon, Evan Daniels of 247Sports broke the news that 2020 five-star center Makur Maker has been informed that he will be eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft, a route he is expected to take.
“Maker’s guardian Ed Smith has said throughout the process that Maker would strongly considering the Draft if deemed eligible by the NBA,” Daniels wrote. “The question about his eligibility stemmed from not receiving his diploma following his senior year of high school.”
“We are excited about the opportunity, I think that he’s deserving,” Smith told Daniels when informed of Maker’s eligibility, adding that a final decision will come in the spring. “I think physically where he is, he’s ahead of Thon [Maker, Makur’s cousin]. The knowledge he’s gained from Thon and Matur and his understanding of the NBA game, the concepts, he’s way head of them.”
According to the report, Maker will not play any more games at Hillcrest Academy this season, but will play in the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic and Nike Hoop Summit in April.
At the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA this summer, Maker told KSR that he was a big fan of the Kentucky program and was extremely interested taking a visit to Lexington.
“Coach Calipari is a good guy,” Maker said. “[When he visited my home last April] 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.
Kentucky hadn’t offered at the time – nor have they since – but Maker said he was very interested in following in the footsteps of some of the top players to come through Lexington during the Calipari Era if the opportunity presented itself.
“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.”
Since then, though, contact from Calipari and the UK staff remained loose, as questions of the five-star center’s basketball future remained up in the air. Maker was ruled ineligible at Orange Lutheran (CA) last summer before transferring to Pacific Academy (CA), and then again to Hillcrest Academy (AZ) this winter. With Maker’s heavy interest in going the professional route – overseas was a strong option before he was deemed eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft – Kentucky never ramped up their interest.
Had Maker been adamant about going to college and the UK staff felt confident his eligibility wouldn’t be an issue, the five-star center could have been a late potential option this spring, especially if the Wildcats strike out on Greg Brown and/or Paolo Banchero and Jonathan Kuminga remain in the class of 2021.
Now, though, it’d take a major change of events for Maker to wind up in Lexington.