The Hungry Jack’s National Basketball League (NBL) is pleased to announce Makur Maker will join the Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings as part of the NBL Next Stars program.
Maker joins a Kings program that has become a breeding ground for NBA talent over recent years and the 20-year-old will be aiming to improve his stocks ahead of next year’s NBA Draft.
Former Sydney players Didi Louzada (New Orleans Pelicans) and Jae’Sean Tate (Houston Rockets) are now thriving in the NBA, while former Kings coach Will Weaver is an assistant coach at the Rockets.
Maker was one of the most sought-after recruits coming out of high school last year, as ESPN had him ranked as the 16th best prospect in America. Maker had offers from prestigious colleges such as UCLA, Kentucky and Kansas but turned them down to join Howard, a historically black college or university (HBCU).
He became the highest-ranked recruit to commit to a HBCU in the modern recruiting era, but his college career was unfortunately limited to just two games after the season was cancelled due to COVID.
Born in Kenya to South Sudanese parents, Maker grew up in Perth and is an Australian citizen. He has basketball in his bloodlines, being the cousin of Australian NBA player Thon Maker and his younger brother Matur Maker, who has been playing in the NBA G League and has just completed a stint with Denver Nuggets in the NBA Summer League.
He participated at this year’s NBA Draft Combine before withdrawing from the draft and turning his attention to improving his stock playing in the NBL.
Hungry Jack’s NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Makur Maker to the NBL as our newest Next Star.
“Makur undoubtedly has NBA level potential and wants to build his prospects of being selected in next year’s draft. There is no better league to do that than in the NBL and the Sydney Kings are a great fit for him, considering their recent success in nurturing NBA players and coaches.
“To have another young prodigious Australian join Next Stars validates the strength of the program. Just last month we saw former Next Star Josh Giddey be selected at pick six in the NBA Draft, while Maker joins Mojave King (Adelaide 36ers) as home grown talents set to shine as Next Stars this season.
“The Next Stars program has never been stronger and more respected in world basketball. We have a diverse set of Next Stars this season including Maker, King, Russia’s Nikita Mikhailovskii (Tasmania JackJumpers), France’s Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers) and Germany’s Ariel Hukporti (Melbourne United).
“The NBL is one of the best professional basketball leagues anywhere in the world and has been proven to be a consistent pathway to the NBA. We have firmly cemented ourselves as a destination league for players looking to take that next step.
“We look forward to watching Makur’s development with the Kings this season and are certain it is just the start of what will be a long and successful professional career.”
Sydney Kings CEO Chris Pongrass said: “We are ecstatic to have Makur joining the Kings family.
“We identified Makur as a key addition to our program and were active in our pursuit of him for some time. It’s rare that you find an athletic seven-footer who can handle and shoot the ball like he can, but who is a fierce second line of defence as a rim protector; we feel he is the perfect complement to the pieces we already have in place.
“What excited us throughout this process was Makur’s desire to expand his game and continue to develop in a pro setting. He showed keen interest in learning from Andrew, Luc and Chase, and growing both on and off the court in order to be an NBA talent. A very smart and astute young man, we were also drawn to his passion for wanting to make a meaningful difference in the South Sudanese community.
“The Next Star program has shown great success these past three seasons. We feel we are a destination Club for developing young talent to make the jump to the NBA; Didi and Brian are proven examples of this. We are thankful for the NBL in supporting us and sharing the same vision for Makur.”
Maker said: “After almost six years of living away from home, I’m happy and excited to be returning to Australia to see family and to play for the Sydney Kings as part of the NBL Next Stars program.
“COVID cut short my NCAA basketball season at Howard University, but I couldn’t have landed in a better spot than the NBL Next Stars program as a member of a marquee club like the Sydney Kings.
“I can’t wait to learn from Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut, probably the best two big men in Australian basketball history who both were NBA Champions.
“Furthermore, under the leadership of our head coach Chase Buford, who is also of NBA Championship background, and the front office with the CEO Chris Pongrass who was with the Memphis Grizzlies, I feel that this is my best pathway to becoming an NBA lottery pick next year.
“I can promise Kings fans that I will bring my hard hat to work every day and my goal is that we as a team will compete at a very high level.
“Also to the South Sudanese youth and all young basketball players across Australia, I hope my dedication to my dream can serve as inspiration of what you can begin to achieve with hard work.
“I want to especially thank my agent Mike George, my coach Edward Smith and NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger for working together to create the opportunity for me to become an NBL Next Star.”