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Makur Maker hoping stint in Australian league will make NBA dreams a reality

The former five-star high school recruit was part of a two-group pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz on Thursday

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Howard’s Makur Maker looks to move past the defense of VCU’s Nah’Shon Hyland during the NBA Draft Combine at the Wintrust Arena, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Chicago. The former five-star recruit worked out for Jazz brass on June 9, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press

Makur Maker made national headlines when as a five-star recruit and consensus top-15 player he became the highest-ranked high school player to commit to a historically Black college or university in the modern era of basketball. He committed to Howard University and then COVID-19 upended his plans.

Maker played in just two game for Howard before a groin injury sidelined him. Then Howard paused and eventually canceled its season due to COVID-19 cases in and around the team.

Hoping to make the leap to the NBA, Maker started preparing for the NBA draft last year but never signed with an agent and eventually withdrew when it became clear that he was not going to be drafted in the first round. But instead of going back to Howard, Maker signed a deal with the NBL’s Sydney Kings and took his talents abroad.

Once again, Maker is hoping to make his NBA dreams a reality, but it hasn’t been the journey that Maker envisioned back when he was one of the most recruited players in the country.

On Thursday, Maker was a part of a two-group, 11-player workout with the Utah Jazz. Every player that worked out for the team is expected to be a second-round pick at best.

“It definitely is a different route that I took — going to an HBCU and then going back to Australia,” Maker said. “I think it’s going to help me in the long run because you never know in professional sports ... you’ve got to learn how to adapt to situations.”

The Kings won the 2021-22 NBL championship and Maker was a contributing role player off the bench for a team that includes former Jazzman Ian Clark and is owned in part by former University of Utah star Andrew Bogut.

“The head coach was Chase Buford, as well as assistants that are former players like Kevin Lisch and Daniel Kickert, and part owners were Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut,” Maker said. “As a player that’s something you wish for, to go into an organization like that.”

Maker once again dealt with injuries this past season but feels that despite not being able to play a full season he learned a lot being around professional players and seeing what it would take to be successful at the next level.

“I‘m not sure where I’m going to be drafted or what the projection is,” Maker said. “Nowadays, you don’t even know. It’s always crazy because my cousin (Thon Maker) wasn’t even projected to be a top-10 pick and he shocked the world with that. I’m just focusing in and locked in on these workouts and trying to get the best feedback as possible.”

The 6-foot-11 Maker was joined in the Jazz workouts by Houston guard Kyler Edwards, Texas A&M guard Quenton Jackson, Michigan State forward Gabe Brown, UConn guard Tyrese Martin, Richmond forward Grant Golden, Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard, Arkansas guard J.D. Notae, Providence forward Justin Minaya, St. John’s forward Aaron Wheeler and Iowa State forward George Conditt IV.

Hillcrest Prep’s Makur Maker is seen against Sunrise Christian Academy during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Sunday, January 19, 2020, in Springfield, Mass. The former five-star recruit worked out for the Utah Jazz on June 9, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Gregory Payan, Associated Press

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