Throughout the summer, USA TODAY High School Sports has published a series called “60 for ’16” highlighting 60 members of the Class of 2016 who we will be watching in the coming 12 months. The final 20 athletes will be presented in order from No. 20 to No. 1 over four weeks. The athletes were selected by the USA TODAY HSS staff.
Name: Thon Maker
School: Athlete Institute (Can.)
Sport: Boys Basketball
First and foremost, what you should know about Maker is that he’s the No. 1 player in the ESPN 100; at least he was before he transferred from The Carlisle School (Axton, Va.) to the Athlete Institute in Canada last season. ESPN doesn’t rank players who don’t play high school basketball in the U.S.
That should give you all the perspective you need as to how Maker cracked the “60 for ‘16” top five.
“Thon is just special,” Athlete Institute coach Larry Blunt said. “His athleticism-to-size ratio is incredible. It’s hard to believe that he’s able to do the things he does at his size.”
Maker is a 7-foot walking matchup problem.
He’s the type of player who’s labeled a center, but can more accurately be described as a “player.”
“It’s true, you can really put him anywhere because he’s that skilled,” Blunt said. “He’s the type of player that has the potential to be No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft. He’s so versatile!”
Maker has been compared to everyone from Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Kevin Garnett to 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant.
The full array of his versatility was on display in June at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, where most of the top high school players in the country convene to duke it out.
When the camp concluded, Maker had taken home MVP honors.
Maker averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds and led Canada Elite to the Under Armour Association Finals last month.
And, yes, he defends too.
Though we can’t reveal winners yet, we can say that Maker has racked up lots of votes for Best Shot Swatter in the 2015 USA Today HSS Players’ Choice AAU awards and superlatives, where elite players pick winners in a variety of different categories.
Winners will be announced Aug. 18.
“With his size and his length he’s definitely the type of player that you don’t see for years at a time,” Blunt said. “He’s very coachable and wants to learn and get better. That’s scary.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY