Why Makur Maker is transferring to Pacific Academy from Orange Lutheran

Photo: Adidas via 247Sports

Corrections and clarifications: The article originally stated Makur Maker had been ruled ineligible by the CIF-SS. While Orange Lutheran coach Chris Nordstrom presented a hypothetical situation to the CIF regarding Maker’s eligibility for next season, according to the CIF, Maker was never officially ruled ineligible at the school. The interviews with Edward Smith and a CIF official have been added.

Makur Maker, one of the top prospects in the 2020 high school basketball class, has transferred to Pacific Academy (Irvine, California) and its newly-formed basketball program, reported by Fox Sports Australia and confirmed by his guardian, Edward Smith.

Maker played at Orange Lutheran (California) last season. Head coach Chris Nordstrom asked the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section about a hypothetical situation about whether a player in Maker’s situation would be eligible, according to a CIF representative. The organization responded that the player would have used up his eight semesters of eligibility.

Over his high school career, Maker played at Chaminade College Prep (Los Angeles) as a freshman, spent two years in Canada — The Tech Academy in Sault St. Marie and a year homeschooled — and then returned to California to play at Orange Lutheran last year.

Smith said Maker missed the 2017-18 season, primarily due to a foot injury. The Tech Academy closed, Smith said, so Maker spent the year being homeschooled while recovering and strengthening his foot to help prevent a recurring problem.

He then enrolled at Orange Lutheran. The coaching staff, aware Maker had missed the prior year, believed he would be able to get a hardship waiver from the CIF at the time he enrolled, Smith said.

“They felt that he could apply for a waiver through the CIF, and they felt that it would be granted based on his circumstance,” Smith said.

However, at the end of the season, Maker and Smith elected to not apply for a hardship waiver. Instead, the 6-foot-11 center transferred to Pacific Academy.

Smith listed a few reasons for switching to the school, which didn’t even have a basketball program last season.

The new team will be run by Jordan Lawley, who is known for his work with NBA players including Carmelo Anthony and Klay Thompson.

Lawley has also worked with Maker. Smith was impressed with the growth he saw in 18-year-old.

“We were training with Jordan and he was doing an excellent job for Makur, we could see him getting better,” Smith said. “I realized, look, Makur has a short schedule next year, and he’ll be great if he continues training with Jordan, doing the same thing.”

Smith is confident that with the resources the academy provides on both the athletic and academic sides and Lawley’s connections in the community, the basketball team can become a force and help Maker grow.

Those resources play into another reason Smith was attracted to the academy. He saw that some graduates had gone onto Ivy League programs and that the school had “excellent SAT scores.”

Playing at the academy will also give Maker the opportunity to play in more tournaments and one-off games against high-profile teams than the CIF would allow.

Pacific Academy would do just fine, in Smith’s eyes. He said there was “no need to go through the whole hardship waiver.

Lawley told FS Australia the program plans to play against some of the top teams in the nation.

FS Australia wrote that “college remains the priority for Maker before the 2021 NBA Draft.” He is the cousin of Detroit Pistons big man Thon Maker.

The 2020 player is ranked as a five-star athlete and the No. 13 player in the country by the 247Sports composite.

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