Thon Maker in Play; Him or Diallo?

Thon Maker, the guy whose mixtapes make him look pretty much exactly like a 17-year-old Kevin Garnett, has just reclassified to the recruiting class of 2015. Immediately upon doing so he's been ranked as a top 10 recruit for this year's class (between 5th and 8th depending on the list) but there has been speculation he could end up the year's top recruit due to his development over the last six months.

247sports currently gives Kansas a slight edge over Kentucky as the most likely team to sign Maker. Kansas is also considered the substantial favorite for Cheick Diallo's services, the one power forward ranked ahead of Maker. With an already crowded frontcourt set to return (at least Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, and Jamari Traylor will be back and maybe Cliff Alexander and Hunter Mickelson), it's possible KU will have to choose between the two.

Diallo and Maker are different types of players. Maker is the long, skinny, face-up type who likes to stretch the floor with his impressive shooting and astonishing ballhandling skill for his 7 foot frame. Diallo is a more traditional big-bodied power forward who will give you solid rebounding and scoring on the blocks. Under normal circumstances, the choice between a potential once-in-a-generation talent and a solid banger would be simple, but Diallo represents exactly the sort of player this year's team has been lacking.

Carlton Bragg also factors into all this. He's a SF/PF hybrid, a face-up guy we already have committed for next year. It's difficult to imagine how he and Maker could share the floor. He's also a player likely to stay at least two years that we'd like to develop chemistry with another guy in the frontcourt, and Diallo is more likely to stick around than Maker. With both Ellis and Traylor set to graduate and Alexander almost certainly going pro after his sophomore year, it's something to consider.

We've faced this situation before. In 2009, Kansas had essentially secured a commitment from Lance Stephenson, New York City's all time leading scorer. However, we encouraged him to hold off on signing a letter of intent, because Xavier Henry was trying to be released from his letter of intent to Memphis after John Calipari's departure from there. Ultimately KU got Henry and Stephenson went to Cincinnati. Both had solid freshmen years, Henry was a lottery pick, and Stephenson ended up the better pro.

This could all be moot anyway. There's been a lot of speculation that the Australian/Sudanese, Canadian educated Maker may go the Emmanuel Mudiay route and bypass college basketball altogether next year, in which case pursuing him to play ball at KU could be a waste of resources.

However, if you want my opinion, if it comes down to choosing between the two, I hope we go all in for Maker. I trust Bill Self to balance whatever elements we get into a winner, and from my armchair Maker seems like the guy who could elevate Kansas to national championship levels and go on to be the next great Jayhawk alumnus. In the end, this is the kind of problem other programs wish they had. Rock Chalk.