Two juniors who could be the most highly rated and highly recruited players out of the Class of 2016 have shown exactly why during the John Wall Bracket of the Holiday Invitational Tournament.
Thon Maker, a 7-foot-1 star out of Orangeville Prep in Ontario, Canada, has been rated the top player in the class by several recruiting services. Harry Giles, a 6-10, 220-pound forward from High Point Wesleyan, has been closing the gap, according to Clark Francis, of Hoopscooponline.com, who has been following basketball recruiting for 32 years.
“In my last ranking, I’ve had Thon as No. 1, but Giles or Josh Jackson (of California) could be No. 1 in that class next,” Francis said.
“Giles has really been on the rise. There’s nothing he can’t do. He’s got a great basketball IQ, can handle the ball, shoot the 3, defend the post, anything you want. He could be the next Danny Manning to come out of these parts.
“Thon is a fluid athlete with tremendous quickness. He shoots and handles the ball really well. I’d like to see him get a little tougher inside. He just needs to get bigger and stronger, add weight, but not lose his quickness and explosiveness.”
Both stars shined during opening wins Saturday. Maker, at just 205 pounds, led his team with 22 points and added seven rebounds in a 67-63 win against Virginia Episcopal. He spent much of the game on the perimeter.
Giles, playing more on the baseline, also scored 22 and had 12 rebounds in a 72-56 win against Carlisle School (Va.).
If both won semifinal games Monday, they would face each other in the championship game at 8:30 Tuesday night. High Point Wesleyan will play Raleigh’s Word of God at 6:50 p.m., and Orangeville Prep will play Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian at 8:30 in the other semifinal.
While their futures are based on playing inside, both were more than impressive in the open court and on the perimeter. When his team went to full-court man-to-man, Maker stayed with his smaller offensive player from end line to end line.
Maker’s goal now is to get his body ready for college and beyond.
“Last year I was rising and improving, but then kind of slowed down,” Maker said of his progress. “But I’m getting better now and I need to get stronger, fix my body up. On the court, be active and more aggressive.”
While Maker is part of the 2016 class, he is considering graduating early, thus becoming part of the 2015 class.
“At the end of January, when we finish our finals for school, then I’ll see where I’m at,” said Maker, a straight-A student.
He said he does not have a short list but locally has had more contact with N.C. State, Duke and Virginia.
“Thon is just an incredible competitor,” Orangeville coach Larry Blunt said. “He has no (weakness) in his game, just needs to work on his body. But he’s such a conscientious kid I don’t have to tell him anything. As a 17-year-old, he’s like a professional, so focused.”
Giles also is looking at lot of options for college, according to his coach, Keith Gatlin.
“Harry can do everything, a multi-versatile kid, the best player in the country, to me,” Gatlin said. “For him to be that tall and that skilled, he’s blessed.
“He’s a pass-first type player and that’s really good when your best player is a passer, a team-first guy, very competitive with a very high skill-set, very strong, massive hands, the complete package.”