There was a seismic event that occurred nearly two-thirds of the way through the lottery selections in the 2016 NBA Draft. With the number 10 selection, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Thon Maker, an alleged 19-year-old prospect from Australia who spent his first season after graduating from high school at Athlete institute Prep, a Canadian prep school.
Maker has long been a top-rated prospect, an intriguing blend of size, length and a deft shooting touch. He has a number of attributes which would lead one to believe he could eventually be a contributor on an NBA roster. The issue is simply that he hasn’t even been a contributor on a collegiate roster yet.
Instead of attending a year in college, Maker went straight into the draft following a prep year at Athlete Institute and was deemed eligible for the Draft because the NBA determined he spent a full year after U.S. high school graduation at a prep school.
That’s where Maker’s selection becomes so significant. Unlike all the other selections, who either played a year in college or professionally overseas, Maker essentially spent a postgrad year at a prep school. And he was still picked in the draft’s top-1o.
When you compare Maker’s uninhibited path with the one taken by Cheick Diallo, the Kansas freshman who spent a year largely on the allen Fieldhouse bench before dropping to the second round of the draft. If Diallo has been allowed to enter the draft directly out of high school, it’s very likely he would have been a lottery selection, or at least a first round pick.
Avoiding that risk of being a college bust is precisely what could inspire so many others to follow his path.
Or, perhaps they won’t. Only time will tell. What we do know now is that it’s possible to enter the draft without spending a year in college or as a foreign professional, either way avoiding the risk of being exposed before a team takes a shot in the lottery.