CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Matur Maker has been coming to the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp for three years, but this is his first time he’s playing minus the 7-3 shadow of his older brother Thon, who has entered next week’s NBA Draft.
“It’s not going to be weird because I took so much from him,” Matur said. “He taught me a lot of different stuff off the court and on the court as well. It’s going to be really different, but I can adjust. It is exciting. Seeing (Thon) at that level motivates me, too.”
At 6-9 and 209 pounds, Matur Maker is a few inches shorter and a few pounds skinnier than his older brother and the hype around him is much more subdued. However, the 2017 power forward from the Sudan who plays for Athlete Institute (Toronto) has had a solid camp, averaging 10.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game through his first five games.
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Thon Maker’s path to the NBA Draft was unusual. He went back to Athlete Institute this past year as a postgraduate student. Because he is 19 and technically a year removed from high school, he found a way around the NBA’s rule designed to keep players from jumping straight from high school to the draft. He’s also skipping the NBA combine, doing only personal workouts with teams.
Like his brother, Maker is an atypical prospect in more ways than one. He eschews social media and says he doesn’t even own a phone. He has a Twitter account but has never tweeted. College coaches who want to contact him have to go through Ed Smith, his parental guardian and a coach at Athlete Institute.
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“As far as college, I could see some possibilities, but I haven’t thought about what I want to do yet,” Matur said. “I want to play somewhere professionally, of course, but I don’t know what I’m going to do about college. Arizona State, Kansas and Indiana are the three schools I’m looking at. I can play from the one to the three, so wherever college I go to will see my potential.”
Because he and his brother are tight, Matur might end up playing at a high school and college in the same city wherever Thon gets drafted. At this point, he doesn’t even know if he’ll go with his brother to the NBA Draft next week. Well spoken and confident, Matur says he’s ready for his own spotlight.
“Playing with (Thon) has been tough, because I was always the guy doing the dirty work,” he said. “Now, I’m just Matur. I’m working on being a better leader. As you can see on the court, I’m the best leader at this camp. I want to be a great teammate. I want to become a better ballhandler and my shooting is developing. I still spend a lot of time in the gym, or really, the weight room.”