[Exclusive] Thon Maker, an advocate for raised basketball awareness in Africa

Thon Maker talks to CLNS Media on the NBA's increase of African players and his interest of playing in the NBA Africa Game.

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Thon Maker driving to the basket during his rookie campaign with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Thon Maker, a Sudanese-born Australian, is a fan of the NBA’s implosion of international talent, especially the players from Africa. According to the NBA, there were 11 contracted players born in Africa on Opening Night rosters. As for players with parents from Africa, that list would include Houston’s Clint Capela, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Utah’s Thabo Sefolosha among many more.

“It’s special when you see more of us,” said Maker with a glistening smile. “The league is growing more international, and you really want your kind to be a part of it. The league is very diverse and it’s really good when you see it diverse like that because you learn about different cultures.

“Also, when you have your guys from your country or your nation or continent all in the league. You kind of get that special feeling where you keep your roots and communicate with your guys and see that everybody’s trying to make it. So, it’s a special feeling.”

More of the better players in the league this season are of African descent such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Dennis Schröder, Capela, and Oladipo, who’s the league’s leading candidate for Most Improved Player.

All of the aforementioned players played in in the NBA’s 2017 Africa game, with the exception of Antetokounmpo, who had a commitment to Greece for EuroBasket. The game has been a success the past few years as the league continues to raise basketball awareness in Africa through Basketball without Borders.

As for the game itself, Maker wasn’t able to play last summer but is hoping to do so in 2018. When asked if he wanted to participate next summer he gave an ecstatic “yes, definitely.”

“It’s really cool, man,” said Maker. “I really wanted to go this past year, I didn’t get a chance to go. I really want to be a part of that. It’s special because it’s big over there. Soccer has always dominated Africa – even to Australia as well it would be big, they’re starving for basketball overseas.”

The league is continuing to tap into the potential talent of NBA prospects in Africa by continuing to do their program there. Over the years players such as Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo have been the frontrunners of spreading the word on the game of basketball, and it’s worked.

With an Africa vs. World game being the headlining act, the raised awareness of the NBA’s stars from the past and future help lead the charge of developing the continent into a funnel of basketball talent. Something Maker sees himself contributing to.