Thon Maker proud to be a Boomer, will play World Cup and Olympics

Thon Maker says his heart will always be in South Sudan but he is proud to play for Australia at the Olympics and World Cup.

Maker, an athletic 216cm tall forward/centre for the Milwaukee Bucks, has described how there were attempts to coax him to play international basketball for Team USA and Canada.

But the 21-year-old rebuffed the US and Canadian interest because he wanted to show gratitude to Australia for accepting his family as refugees from war-torn Sudan when he was seven-years-old.

"For me it was like giving back to Australia," Maker said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Just to say thank you for taking me and my family in. I had a great life when I was over there; my family still does."

Maker, at the age of 13 and displaying the height and physical gifts to be a future NBA player, moved from Australia to the U.S. where he had scholarships at various high schools, also in Canada, before the Bucks took him with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Maker showed his devotion to the Boomers by playing during the NBA offseason for the Australia team and finding himself in the middle of the infamous brawl against the Philippines in a FIBA World Cup qualifier.

He is expected to be a key member of the Boomers at next year's World Cup in China and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"Australia is very nice; the people are nice," Maker said. "Everybody gets a 'fair go' - that's what they say.

"It's more like: give it a try, whereas in the U.S., it's like, 'No, we've got to take everything. We've got to ... dominate'."

South Sudan, where members of his family still live, also has a culture he loves.

"I'm from South Sudan, that is where my heart will always be," Maker said. "Working hard - that's South Sudan.

"We're tall, dark skinned, beautiful - I'm always proud of that. I always encourage that.

"There's a thing going on in Australia where they have makeup stuff that makes women get lighter. Bleaching. I've seen women use those.

"If I could just talk to them and say: be proud of who you are."