A relatively unknown prospect just a year ago, 2020 five-star center Makur Maker has become arguably the most unique prospect in his class
Just a hair under the 7-foot mark, Maker looks the part of an elite big man. At 235 pounds, the Orange Lutheran High School product has the size to bang down low on offense, grab tough rebounds, and alter shots at the basket.
And then you see him receive the inbound pass, take the ball up the floor, and knock down 3-pointers from 25-feet out.
It’s that elite inside-out style of play that has forced recruiting outlets to bump his ratings up – he’s up to No. 2 over at 247Sports – and make college coaches drop whatever they are doing to check this kid out in person.
One of those schools? The University of Kentucky.
Back in April, Kentucky head coach John Calipari and assistant coach Kenny Payne traveled out to Southern California to surprise Maker and his guardian, Ed Smith, with an in-home visit.
At the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA, Maker said he was definitely happy with how the visit went, adding that Calipari is a “good guy.”
“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.”
Maker said that while Kentucky has yet to extend an offer, he’s very interested in following in the footsteps of some of the top players to come through Lexington during the Calipari Era.
“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.”
Looking at what Maker brings to the table, it’s easy to see why there is mutual interest between both sides. As a skilled big man with range out to the 3-point line, the Orange, CA is already drawing comparisons to Towns, among other versatile players.
In fact, he’s so skilled that some recruiting analysts and various highlight tapes on YouTube are calling Maker a “7-foot point guard.”
As much as he values his versatility, Maker brushed off the high praise. He’d actually rather be called something that Kentucky fans should be quite familiar with at this point.
“I don’t buy the hype, when they say ‘7-foot point guard.’ I like to do things on the floor. I like to go down low sometimes. It starts down low, and then I work my way out. I’m not a point guard, but I am positionless.
When it comes to John Calipari’s pitch, while he hasn’t used his go-to phrase with the 7-foot prospect with elite guard skills quite yet, Makur says the UK coaching staff would want him to play the exact same way in Lexington.
For him, that’s extremely important to him when making a college decision.
“[Kentucky wants me to keep] doing what I do now [in college], just being a lot more sharper,” he said. “We haven’t really spoken on [being positionless], but I’ll probably see him sometime this summer. That’s just something I like personally: being positionless. I feel like being versatile, the game comes a lot more easier.”
While Kentucky is obviously interested and a scholarship offer is expected in the very near future, they’ll have to fight off plenty of other schools if they want to land the top-three prospect in the class.
“Oregon has been calling a lot, Auburn, UCLA recently called,” he said. “Washington, Nevada, that’s the latest pickup that I know of.”
When asked about specific schools he would like to visit sooner rather than later, though, Makur was quick to separate the Wildcats from the pack.
“Kentucky, probably. Most likely,” he said. “Sometime this summer, I probably want to see them.”
Over the last few months, there was speculation that the 7-foot center was contemplating a jump to the class of 2019, with Kentucky being one of the schools rumored to have interest should a reclassification come to fruition.
When asked about an updated status on when he’ll be playing college basketball, Maker was adamant that he’s sticking with his original class of 2020.
“Definitely staying in 2020. Giving it one more year,” he said. “Since I had a year off, I feel like I should get a year back and go on the floor and learn what I can do as a player.”
Now that the Kentucky coaching staff has more time to evaluate Maker’s game and recruit him to Lexington over the next year or so, expect them to ramp up their efforts in the immediate future.
The interest certainly seems mutual.