April 22, 2015

Maker making his mark

Kevin McCarthy

If there is a First Family of basketball in the Salinas area, it's the Makers. There's the elder Wyatt Maker who was part of an NCAA national championship team in his day, plus his two sons: 6-foot-4 freshman Garrett and the younger Wyatt Maker, a junior. Add to the mix DI Marist Head Coach Mike Maker, an uncle to the prepsters.

photo of Wyatt Maker

It's the teenage Wyatt, 2016 class, 6-foot-8 and out of Palma High and the Seaside's Finest travel team, featured here. The primary reason is his earning Most Valuable Player Honors in the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division while also being named The Monterey Herald's Monterey County Most Valuable Player after averaging 14.7 points and nine rebounds a game this past season.

So who is Wyatt Maker? On the court, “my best skills are my post moves and soft touch around the rim.” Besides being an 82% free throw shooter, he also has a face-the-basket game that includes three-point range.

When participating for Palma, “the offense tends to runs through me.” Plays are designed for him yet he performs unselfishly, not requiring shot attempts while also being both a willing and able passer. “I have great teammates that are unselfish and can play.” In the spring and summer, “we have a lot of scorers and definitely share the ball. I do step out and shoot the three more in travel ball.”

About the aforementioned hoops lineage, it was back in the 1984-85 season that 6-foot-11 then sophomore Wyatt Maker was a Villanova Wildcat and part of the team that took down overwhelming favorite Georgetown in the national championship game that was appropriately played on April 1. Never before or since has a No. 8 seed took the crown or shot a record 78.6% from the floor.

But it was equal opportunity sports participation for the Maker children. “I played all sports growing up,” Maker recalled. Then it was basketball, football and baseball. “Baseball wasn't fast paced enough” so that went by the wayside and Maker dropped football as a defensive and offensive lineman after his sophomore year, although now he currently also plays volleyball.

There are six individuals cited by Maker as his roundball influences. “My Dad and Grandpa, Coach [Paul] Alioto (the former Palma High coach), Coach [Kelley] Lopez (the current Chieftain coach), Coach Hieb [Jason Hieb, the Seaside's Finest coach], and Larry Bird.” The latter indicates this is a young man who knows his hoops history.

Here's Hieb on his forward: “Wyatt has some really good post moves and passes well off of double teams. When his feet are set, he's shoots the three ball extremely well for a guy who only plays the post in high school. He will be a stretch four at the next level.”

With one more season to go before the next rung on the ladder, Maker sports a 3.7 grade point average and has an interest as a possible history major at the next level. He sees himself as “maybe a four, or a three if I improve my ball handling.”

His father made the move from Salinas to Villanova back in the early eighties and there is a mutual geographical interest. “I really like the East Coast. We have a lot of family there.”

Hey Jay Wright if you're reading this, you just might have the chance to establish a family tradition.