“Quite honestly, he’s really banged up and we’re going to shut him down until he gets healthy because right now he’s just not,” Blakeney said. “He’s not able to move and I don’t want him to be counterproductive right now.”
The five-star recruit suffered the groin injury during a preseason practice but had assured Blakeney and the Howard training staff that he felt comfortable playing through the ailment.
Despite concerted efforts to limit Maker’s workload in the days and weeks leading up to Thursday’s season opener versus Belmont, Maker was unable to fully recover.
During the Bison’s two Paradise Jam games, both losses, the 6-foot-11 forward could be seen grimacing as he labored up and down the court and spent each break in action receiving treatment from the training staff.
“He’s such a competitor that he really wanted to go out and try to do the best for his teammates and for himself,” Blakeney said. “But sometimes you got to help people get out of their own way and I think that this is one of those times that we have to do that.”
Despite being ranked No. 16 in the nation, according to the ESPN 100 Class of 2020 recruiting rankings, Maker, who at 19 was eligible to enter the NBA draft out of high school, received an undrafted projection. As a result, Maker removed his name from the draft and committed to Howard despite holding scholarship offers from powerhouse programs like Kentucky and UCLA.
“I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other started to dream ‘what if,’” Maker tweeted in July. “I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney.”
With Maker out for the foreseeable future, Howard (0-2) is now missing four of its five projected starters just two games into the season.
Freshman Jordan Wood (Shoulder), sophomore and reigning MEAC Freshman of the Year Wayne Bristol Jr. (labrum/covid precautions) and senior Purdue transfer Nojel Eastern (ankle/awaiting NCAA transfer waiver) have yet to suit up for the Bison.
Through two games, Maker averaged 11.5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists.