Sydney Kings sign Makur Maker as NBL Next Star

Highly-regarded centre Makur Maker will play for the Sydney Kings this season as part of the NBL's Next Stars program.

The 20-year-old will look to improve his stocks ahead of next year's NBA Draft like a number of players have before him including Lonzo Ball (Chicago Bulls), Didi Louzada (New Orleans Pelicans) and Jae'Sean Tate (Houston Rockets).

Maker was one of the most sought-after recruits coming out of high school last year with offers from prestigious colleges such as UCLA, Kentucky and Kansas before he settled on Howard in Washington.

Born in Kenya to South Sudanese parents, Maker grew up in Perth and is an Australian citizen. He's the cousin of Australian of Thon Maker, who is currently on the hunt for another NBA club, and his younger brother Matur Maker, who has been playing NBA G League.

Maker participated at this year's NBA Draft Combine before withdrawing from it and making the decision to pursue time in the NBL.

He said he was happy to be returning home after six years.

"COVID cut short my NCAA basketball season at Howard University, but I couldn't have landed in a better spot than the NBL Next Stars program as a member of a marquee club like the Sydney Kings," he said.

"I can't wait to learn from Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut, probably the best two big men in Australian basketball history who both were NBA Champions."

Kings CEO Chris Pongrass said he was ecstatic to have Maker on board.

"We identified Makur as a key addition to our program and were active in our pursuit of him for some time.

"It's rare that you find an athletic seven-footer who can handle and shoot the ball like he can, but who is a fierce second line of defence as a rim protector; we feel he is the perfect complement to the pieces we already have in place."

The 2021-22 NBL season is set to tip-off on November 18.