Thon Maker: Sudan’s Next Basketball Star

When Thon Makers’s parents sent him to Australia at the tender age of 5 to further his education and see the world, little did they know that he would one day become of the most coveted student athletes in the United States. Australia’s immigrant friendly policy opens the door to several foreigners to benefit from the country’s thriving economy and world class institutions.

Thon was born in South Sudan and the region is noted for producing tall and slender people. He wouldn’t be the first athlete or prominent personality to emerge from there. Longtime followers of basketball in the United States will remember the NBA legend, Manute Bol. He played for several teams and he was officially the second tallest player in the history of the NBA, standing at 7 ft 7in. Another superstar born in South Sudan, is current NBA player, Luol Deng. Deng made his name playing for the Chicago Bulls before moving over to Cleveland Cavaliers recently.

Edward Smith “discovered” Thon during a visit to Australia. The rangy lad was playing soccer with fellow students at the time. One long look decided it. The following year, Thon was on his way to the United States under the guardianship of Smith. The major difference was that he was coming to the US as a basketballer who had something others envied - height. He currently stands at 7ft 1 in and doctors have predicted he would add a couple more inches before he stops growing.

Thon arrived in Lousiana and spent a year before moving to Martinsville, Virginia where he’s currently a sophomore at Carlisle School. At just 17, he appears to have the world at his feet, or better still, in his hands. He appears unguardable most times as he stands heads and shoulders above his peers.

Several coaches and fans have commented on his need to improve on his overall game (especially his offense) rather than relying on his shot blocking skills. Thon has surely heeded the advice. He enjoys watching and more importantly learning from Kevin Garnett, Luol Deng, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Unlike Manute Bol who was known for his blocks but general weakness in all areas, Thon continues to work hard to improve on all aspects of his game.

Maker is clearly sought by some of the best colleges in the country and he already has offers from Georgetown, LSU, Ohio State, Miami, NC State and Memphis. It’s been reported that Kentucky and Kansas have also joined the race to secure the 2016 prospect.

Despite the overwhelming interest, he continues to take everything in his stride. He seldom talks about the offers or recruiting efforts of others but always stresses the need to improve his game.

For someone so young, that’s a rare exhibition of maturity. Thon is one to watch out for and under the smart mentoring of Edward Smith; he should achieve greatness along the way. So far, he’s started his journey brilliantly.


Tony Eboh

Follow on Twitter @tonyify1

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