Makur Maker

Jared Butler, Aaron Henry Among Prospects Withdrawing From Draft

A pair of early-entry prospects who were ranked within the top 60 on ESPN’s big board have pulled out of the draft in advance of Monday’s withdrawal deadline.

Baylor guard Jared Butler was one of those two players, announcing in a Twitter video on Monday morning that he has decided to return to the Bears for his junior year. Butler explained his decision in a conversation with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

“After going through this process, making an important decision for the rest of my life, I truly felt like I couldn’t go wrong with either decision,” Butler said. “It came down to making the most out of my development as a player and as an adult. In the end I felt like coming back to school would set me up in both aspects in a way that I couldn’t deny. Even though the opportunity to reach my dream of playing in the NBA was readily at hand, I think next year it will still be there, possibly even with greater opportunities.”

Butler emerged as Baylor’s leading scorer in 2019/20 as a sophomore, averaging 16.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 30 games (30.4 MPG). He also showed improvement on his outside shot, making 38.1% of 6.7 three-point attempts per contest. He came in at No. 46 on Givony’s top-100 list at ESPN.com, making him a strong candidate to be drafted had he decided to go pro.

Meanwhile, Michigan State swingman Aaron Henry has also decided to withdraw from the draft after testing the waters, as Givony writes in a separate story. Henry had been the No. 55 prospect on ESPN’s big board.

Henry’s numbers as a sophomore in 2019/20 were somewhat modest — 10.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 30 games (29.1 MPG). However, Givony describes him as a “long, athletic wing with strong two-way potential” and points out that he’s in position to take on a larger role for a Spartans team that won’t have Cassius Winston back next season.

“Cassius leaves big shoes to fill. He was asked to do everything for Michigan State,” Henry told ESPN. “I’m hoping to step into a bigger role with the ball in my hands. Things will definitely look different. Everyone is going to need to step up and be a piece to the puzzle. NBA teams want to see me in a bigger role. They want to see me be the man on a team. I’m not afraid of that. Let’s get to it.”

Here are a few more early entrants who tested the waters and have now pulled out of the draft ahead of Monday’s withdrawal deadline:

And-Ones: Maker, Lawson, Mills, Zion

Makur Maker spurned traditional college powerhouses to attend Howard University, but he may not be there long, Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com relays. The 6’11” Maker, cousin of Pistons center Thon Maker, admitted on ESPN’s First Take talk show that he may only be there one season.

“We’ll see how the future goes but if you’re a one-and-done talent, why not leave? That’s how I look at,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA and if that’s going to take me a year, I’m definitely all for it. If it’s going to take me two years, I’m definitely all for it. I know I’m an NBA lottery talent.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Duke is closing in on Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson as its new women’s basketball head coach, according to The News & Observer’s Steve Wiseman. Lawson, a former WNBA star and ESPN analyst, traveled with the Celtics to the Orlando campus this week. She would replace Joanne P. McCallie, who resigned this month after 13 years with the Blue Devils.
  • Spurs guard Patty Mills plans to donate his game checks during the league’s restart to social justice organizations, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I’m playing in Orlando because I don’t want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to Black communities,” Mills said.
  • According to a federal court filing, Zion Williamson‘s stepfather allegedly solicited and accepted a $400K payment from a marketing agent in October 2018 prior to his season at Duke, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. If true, Williamson would have been ineligible to play for the Blue Devils. The court motion and sworn affidavit was filed by his former marketing representative’s attorneys. Prime Sports Marketing sued Williamson and Creative Artists Agency for $100MM in state court in Florida for Williamson’s alleged breaching of their marketing agreement and signing with CAA.

Draft Notes: Maker, Petrusev, Ayayi, Trifunovic

Big man Makur Maker is declaring for the draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 6’11” Maker was ruled eligible for the draft in February despite being two credits short of graduating with his original 2019 high school class in California. The younger cousin of Pistons center Thon Maker, Makur Maker is ranked No. 75 overall and No. 14 among center prospects by ESPN. Maker, a five-star recruit, attended Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix this winter.

We have more draft decisions:

  • Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev has declared for the draft but hasn’t hired an agent, Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops tweets. The 6’11” Serbian native started 33 games for the Bulldogs this season after coming off the bench as a freshman. He averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.9 RPG and scored in double digits in all but two games. He is ranked No. 60 overall and No. 12 among power forwards by ESPN.
  • Petrusev’s teammate Joel Ayayi is also declaring for the draft, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Ayayi, a 6’5” sophomore guard, averaged 10.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.2 APG for Gonzaga this season.
  • Serbian wing Uros Trifunovic has declared for the draft, according to Sportando. The 6’6” Trifunovic, 19, played for Partizan Belgrade this season. In nine EuroCup games, he averaged 5.4 PPG in 13.2 MPG.

Draft Notes: Maker, Primo, Toppin, Azubuike

Having ruled earlier this week that Makur Maker – the younger cousin of Thon Maker – is eligible to enter the 2020 draft, the NBA and NBPA reached a revised agreement on the draft eligibility of players in similar situations to Maker, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Going forward, 19-year-old prospects who are still enrolled in high school won’t be eligible to enter the draft, clearing up an area of confusion for NBA teams.

As for Maker specifically, even though he’s now free to enter this year’s draft, there’s no guarantee he’ll do so. His guardian Ed Smith told ESPN that Maker will go pro if he’s projected to be a lottery pick. Givony currently has the young center ranked 77th overall on this year’s big board.

  • In an Insider-only ESPN.com article, Givony and Mike Schmitz evaluate which prospects had the biggest impact at last weekend’s Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Chicago. According to ESPN’s draft experts, Canadian guard Josh Primo “stole the show,” looking comfortable playing both on and off the ball. Primo, currently a high school junior, projects to be a first-rounder in 2021, says Givony.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic identifies nine undervalued draft prospects that have piqued his interest, including Dayton forward Obi Toppin, Florida State forward Patrick Williams, and French guard Killian Hayes.
  • Elsewhere at The Athletic, Sam Vecenie makes the case for why Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike is the best center in the NCAA, while Mike Vorkunov takes a look at which prospects the Knicks should be targeting this spring, with some help from Spencer Pearlman of The Stepien.

And-Ones: Mock Draft, Maker, G League Union, Bethea Jr.

Georgia guard Anthony Edwards heads to Cleveland in the latest mock draft compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Former Memphis center James Wiseman (Golden State), Auburn swingman Isaac Okoro (Atlanta), guard LaMelo Ball (New York) and Israeli swingman Deni Avdija (Charlotte) round out the top five. USC big man Onyeka Okongwu has firmly moved into the top 10 after a couple of big performances against top competition and Givony has him going to Detroit at No. 7.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Makur Maker has been declared eligible for this year’s draft, Evan Daniels of 247Sports reports. The 6’11” Maker is a five-star recruit currently at Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix but he doesn’t plan to play any more games there, Daniels continues. The question about his eligibility stemmed from not receiving his diploma following his senior year of high school. Maker plans to play in the Iverson Classic All-Star game and the Nike Hoop Summit, Daniels adds.
  • NBA players have voted to support the formation of a union for G League players, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The vote was held at the NBPA meeting on Monday. Formal approval at the G League level will have to take place before the union can be formed (Twitter links).
  • Raptors 905 guard Michael Bethea Jr. is the subject of a feature story by The Athletic’s Blake Murphy on the life of a G League player.

And-Ones: Maker, Wade, CBA, Thompson, Robinson

Makur Maker, ranked No. 10 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony in the 2020 high school class, is exploring his eligibility for next June’s draft, according to Givony. The NBA Players Association is assisting Makur and believes he’ll be declared eligible due to the fact he’ll turn 19 in November, Givony adds. He’s also in his fifth year of high school at Pacific Academy in Irvine, California, as the 6’11’ Maker was two credits short of receiving a high school diploma from his previous school. He’s the cousin of Pistons big man Thon Maker.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Italy’s Olimpia Milano was interested in signing Dwyane Wade, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Team president Leo Dell’Orco revealed that the franchise considered making a run at the retired NBA star before settling on another former NBA veteran, Luis Scola. “This summer we wanted to sign an important NBA player,” he said. “We were interested in Dwyane Wade but we took some time (and chose Scola).”
  • The Chinese Basketball Association has increased its restrictions on foreign players, Carchia relays in a separate story. Among the changes is a rule that only two foreign players can be on the roster for each game and they can’t be on the court at the same time. The CBA has also imposed a salary cap but it only applies to Chinese players, according to another note from Carchia.
  • Former NBA forward Jason Thompson is returning to the Chinese league and will replace Angel Delgado on the Beijing Royal Fighters, according to a Sportando report. Thompson spent last season with Fenerbahce D Istanbul. In 36 games with Fenerbahce, Thompson averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 16.0 MPG. Thompson played in China during the 2016/17 season after averaging 8.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 588 career NBA games. Delgado had to leave China for personal matters.
  • Another former NBA forward, Thomas Robinson, reached an agreement with the CBA’s Sichuan Blue Whales, Sportando relays.  Robinson spent last season with Beijing, averaging 21.9 PPG and 13.6 RPG. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.

Makur Maker Considers Alternatives To College

Makur Maker, one of the top high school prospects in the nation, may be the next player to bypass college on his road to the NBA, writes Evan Daniels of 247sports. The 6’11” center, who attends Pacific Academy in Irvine, California, has already received interest from the G League, the NBL and other professional leagues, according to his guardian, Ed Smith.

“It’s definitely appealing playing against grown men, although you’re playing against grown men in college too,” Maker said. “Competition is going to be there no matter what.” The thing about college is you play on national TV every night so you’re getting that exposure from the country and basically the world. That’s very appealing to me.”

Maker is considered a top-five college prospect. He is the cousin of Pistons center/power forward Thon Maker, who was drafted without ever playing college basketball.

More players are seeking alternatives to the NCAA as they plot out their futures. Top 2020 prospects R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball both opted for the NBL. K.J. Martin Jr. is training privately instead of going to college, while potential 2021 draftee MarJon Beauchamp plans to train with Chameleon BX, a private company based in San Francisco.

Maker has plenty of suitors if he opts for college basketball. He named Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington State as heavy recruiters, and he may visit Howard this fall.

“The thing about college is it keeps you relevant, and from my perspective it helped Zion (Williamson) a lot,” Smith said. “He did get better, but it also helped his career standpoint. You have to keep an eye on that.”