“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 hurt his groin during a preseason practice but assured Blakeney and the Howard training staff that he felt comfortable playing through the ailment. Despite efforts to limit Maker’s workload leading up to Thursday’s season opener vs. Belmont, he was unable to fully recover.
During the Bison’s first two Paradise Jam games, both losses, the 6-foot-11 forward grimaced as he labored up and down the court and spent each break in the 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.”
Maker’s injury, for the time being, quells the optimism that surrounded Howard’s program since Maker became the highest-ranked player in the modern era to commit to a historically Black college or university in July. Despite being the No. 16 recruit in the nation, according to ESPN, Maker, who at 19 was eligible to enter the NBA draft out of high school, received an undrafted evaluation. He removed his name from the draft and headed to Howard despite holding scholarship offers from powerhouse programs such as Kentucky and UCLA.
In two games, Maker is averaging 11.5 points, six rebounds and two assists. With Maker out for the foreseeable future, Howard is now missing three projected starters. Sophomore and reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference freshman of the year Wayne Bristol Jr. (labrum/coronavirus precautions) and senior Purdue transfer Nojel Eastern (awaiting NCAA transfer waiver) have yet to suit up this season.
On Saturday afternoon, the Bison fell, 84-70, to George Mason in the Paradise Jam at Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Jordan Miller went 8 for 10 from three-point range and finished with 30 points for the Patriots (2-1), who made a program-record 17 three-pointers.
Kyle Foster led Howard (0-3) with 23 points, and freshman Jordan Wood, coming off a shoulder problem, added 11 points in his debut for the Bison.
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