While college prospects continue their tour of NBA cities for pre-draft workouts, the center of the NBA Draft world this week is halfway around the world.
Scouts are in Treviso, Italy for the Adidas Eurocamp, getting a look at players for the June 26 draft, but also those coming up for 2015 and beyond. Perhaps the headliner in that second group is the Sudanese born, Australian raised, Virginia prepped Thon Maker, a 7-foot-1 power forward with perimeter and shot blocking skills.
Similar to the recent NBA combine in Chicago, several of the top international players are not at Eurocamp. Australian point guard Dante Exum, projected by some as the No. 4 overall prospect in 2014, probably could harm his stock and so he didn't show. Two other likely first rounders - Croatia’s Dario Saric and Bosnia’s Jusuf Nurkic - are still playing in the Euroleague playoffs. Apparently some scouts drove over three hours from Italy to watch the big man battle head-to-head in Croatia.
Without those big names in the mix, attention has shifted elsewhere. Point guard Vasilije Micic could play his way into the first round. Center Moussa Diagne is deemed all kinds of raw but intriguing at 6-foot-11. Ioannis Papapetrou, who played one season with the Texas Longhorns, reportedly stood out. DraftExpress.com's latest pre-Eurocamp mock had the 6-foot-8 wing selected by the Pacers with the 57th overall pick. The Wizards own the 46 selection.
Barring the unforeseen, Maker will not sniff the second round whenever he turns pro (more on that in a moment). The potential Georgetown recruit might not even be an option for the second overall pick. DraftExpress's Jonathan Givony wrote that the 17-year-old Maker's "special talent is unmistakable. Few players his age can step into a setting like this one and hold up against more mature, organized competition, and there's little doubt this will be the first of many times we write about the promising power forward in the coming years."
More from ProBasketballTalk's Brett Pollakoff:
Thon Maker is a seven-footer who extremely polished for his age, and reminds of Kevin Garnett in the way that his arms hang and just how he carries himself physically. He’s extremely thin, as are all players this tall and this young, but can already knock down mid-range jumpers at a high percentage and is active and talkative on the defensive end of the floor. He was pushed around by the bigger, stronger and older members of the French team down low, which was to be expected. But Maker is a player who would likely go directly from high school to the NBA if the age limit wasn’t in place, due to his combination of size and agility, along with his being at a relatively advanced stage in the development process.
Pollakoff used a KG comparison. The first time I saw this unreal highlight video of the agile Maker swatting shots, making 3's, scoring on nifty post moves and running the court, my imagination led to him being Kevin Durant and Manute Bol's love child.
Stateside Maker plays for Carlisle School in Martinsville, Virginia. ESPN ranks him as the No. 1 prospect in the 2016 class, though there is buzz about a possible reclassification to 2015. Should Maker move up a year, he could enter the 2016 NBA Draft. Georgetown, Duke, Louisville, Florida and Kansas are among the programs that have reportedly offered scholarships.
Wherever Maker goes for college, it doesn't appear he'll be there for long.