Arizona State basketball recruiting target Thon Maker declares for 2016 NBA Draft

Apr 4, 2016, 11:24 AM

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Bobby Hurley’s biggest battle in taking over the Arizona State program came in upgrading the talent. From the first few weeks on the job, 5-star big man Thon Maker’s interest in the Sun Devils was reason No. 1 to believe Hurley was wasting no time making himself known along the recruiting frontlines.

Maker’s decision this weekend to apply for the 2016 NBA Draft and challenge the system that doesn’t allow players to make the jump out of high school is the most front-facing blow to Hurley in landing top-tier talent.

Ranked 10th in composite national recruiting rankings, the 7-foot, 205-pound Maker declared for the draft as the NBA determines whether him being 19 years old and in his fifth high school season will allow him to enter the draft.

Had Maker decided to head the college route, there was a legitimate chance Arizona State was in the lead to land him.

Not only was Maker projected by 73 percent of recruiting experts to choose Arizona State, according to his 247 Sports Crystal Ball, but Maker told DraftExpress in an interview after his declaration that the Sun Devils were atop his list.

I was really looking forward to my visit to Arizona State and Notre Dame. My guy (ASU assistant) Brian Merrit is at ASU and I was leaning that way. I loved Coach Hurley’s fire. When he got that tech early in the season, I was like ‘I want to play for this guy.’

The twist to those comments came in the news from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Monday morning that Merritt did not have his contract renewed.

Merritt, who joined Hurley staff after serving for John Lucas Enterprises, was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Scottsdale this offseason.

Maker, who attends Orangeville Prep in Canada, became a prolific subject on highlight reel mixtapes which painted him as the next LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but despite those over-hyped comparisons, he is a legitimate top recruit as an energetic, face-up big.

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Now, it’s a matter of getting clearance from the NBA to become a draftee and for Maker to provide enough evidence that he’s worthy of being selected.

Meanwhile, Arizona State can hope the league declines Maker entry into the draft, but losing Merritt obviously doesn’t help if that happens. Furthermore, Kansas was making a run at recruiting Maker hard and the big man had other visits scheduled to Notre Dame, St. John’s and Indiana.

Maker told DraftExpress he will not test the waters — if the NBA allows him to enter the draft, he’s “all in.”

This all isn’t to say Hurley and the Sun Devils won’t be fine without Maker. But he sure would have helped Arizona State’s momentum.

ASU’s 2016 recruiting class already has commitments from 4-star forward Sam Cunliffe, 4-star center Jethro Tshisumpa and 3-star forward Vitaliy Shibel.

In related matters, it’s unclear if there will be any domino affect from ASU deciding to part ways with Merritt, a key recruiter with a background in the high school hoops scene.

Penguin Air

Arizona State Basketball

Pac-12 Conference commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at Pac-12 NCAA college football media day Fr...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12, Larry Fitzgerald-backed startup to monetize highlights for NIL

The Pac-12 is entering the NIL space by partnering with a startup that will help athletes earn money from their personalized game highlights.
10 days ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Nikash Nath

CBS Sports: Wildcats among top 30 best 2021-22 sports programs

CBS Sports released rankings Monday with over 130 colleges ordered on the success of their athletic programs. 
14 days ago
Arizona State linebacker Kyle Soelle carries out the state flag as the team takes the field to face...
Arizona Sports

State of the Sun Devils podcast: What’s next for the Pac-12?

Arizona Sports introduces State of the Sun Devils, an Arizona State podcast hosted by Jesse Morrison, Jeremy Schnell and ASU reporter Jake Anderson.
16 days ago
Pac-12 logo on the court after a college basketball game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and t...
Arizona Sports

Report: Talks between Pac-12, Big 12 end without future partnership

The Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences have concluded talks without a future partnership, reports ESPN's Pete Thamel.
27 days ago
Incoming Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yorkman smiles during a news conference opening the NCAA college...
Arizona Sports

Big 12 ‘exploring all options’ when asked about potential Pac-12 additions

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yorkmack said Wednesday that the conference is open to expansion when asked about the Pac-12.
1 month ago
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at a press conference before the PAC-12 Football Champi...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 breakup amid conference realignment ‘overstated’ at the moment

Nobody is denying that ASU and Arizona, among other teams, could be considering leaving the Pac-12. But it's a holding pattern for now.
1 month ago
Arizona State basketball recruiting target Thon Maker declares for 2016 NBA Draft