5-Star Prospect Makur Maker Eligible for 2020 NBA Draft as Early-Entry Candidate

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2020

Hillcrest Prep's Makur Maker #20 is seen against Sunrise Christian Academy during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Sunday, January 19, 2020, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The NBA confirmed in a memo to teams that former Orange Lutheran High School center Makur Maker is eligible to enter the 2020 NBA draft as a 19-year-old player based in the United States.

ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported Tuesday that the NBA explained Maker, who was two credits short of graduation when he left Orange Lutheran, fulfilled the necessary draft requirements based on his draft petition.

The league and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to change the rule for future prospects, however, removing a potential loophole where players would benefit from dropping out of high school.

Ed Smith, Maker's guardian, told ESPN the center will only formally declare for the draft if he's projected to land in the lottery. His lackluster performances at the Tarkanian Classic and Hoophall Classic have dropped his projection into the late second round, per Givony.

He'll be a highly coveted collegiate prospect if he goes the traditional route.

Maker is a 5-star prospect and the No. 12 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's also rated as the second-best center and the No. 6 recruit from the state of California in this year's group.

He's received scholarship offers from Alabama, Howard, Oregon and USC with the Bison and Ducks viewed as the leaders if he chooses to attend college, per 247Sports.

"All the college kinda backed off of me ever since they heard I was going to the NBA," Maker told Greg Levinsky of ZagsBlog in January. "If they're recruiting me hard, I'm willing to go look."

He added: "If I'm a top pick in the NBA draft, why not go? Right now, my whole thing is to get better."

Players not automatically eligible for the 2020 draft must declare their availability by April 26, but the prospects have until June 15 to withdraw from the class.

Maker could initially declare and attempt to improve his stock during the pre-draft process, but he'd have to make a significant leap to move from a fringe draft prospect into the lottery.

On a positive note, he could become the most coveted recruit available in June for high-profile college programs with a scholarship spot still available.

A strong collegiate season as a freshman could make him a lottery candidate for 2021.

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