Thon Maker hopes to inspire other refugees with NBA journey

Australian Thon Maker says he hopes he can be an inspiration to refugees around the world after his startling journey to the NBA culminated in him joining Milwaukee Bucks at No.10 in the NBA draft.

Maker was the bolter in this year's draft, being selected much earlier than many experts predicted in the lead-up to the event.

The 216cm power forward was born in Sudan and fled with his family as refugees to Perth when he was five years old, before a basketball talent scout spotted him playing soccer.

In 2011, he moved to the US for high school - attending three different schools before moving Canada in 2014 to attend Orangeville Prep's Athlete Institute.

Minutes after joining the Bucks at pick No.10, Maker - speaking to journalists in Melbourne at a Cisco Telepresence conference - said he hoped his journey would inspire refugees across the globe.

"Definitely - not just [in] Australia but all around the world," the 19-year-old said.

"A lot of kids make this journey and they want to find a way to be successful, and when they see somebody do something like this they want to find out what made you think that way - you made certain decisions to get to where you are, so what were they?

"I'll be able to provide advice to those who want to be in this position and there's kids in my situation that can see this as an inspiration definitely."

Simmons - who laughed off pre-draft rumours he wasn't actually 19 - said he had to mature quickly as a child, which has held him in good stead.

"The way I moved around definitely helped me be mature but that's expected of us - when you're born and grow up in Sudan, you have to mature quickly because you have to be the man of the house soon," he said.

"Your older brothers, they move on, they have no time for you - you have to find a way to be a man yourself, to mature quickly. It definitely helped me out, with me sacrificing a lot, it's helped me out.

"My family being home in Australia and me being in the US helped me out, as I'm working for them and finding a way to be successful for them."

Maker's family wasn't able to fly to the US for the event but he said he was indebted for their support. He added it may not be long until a sibling also made it to the NBA - his 18-year-old brother, 208cm tall Matur Maker, was enrolled at the Athlete Institute in Ontario, Canada, with him and is also focused on making it to the NBA.

"He's next," Maker said.

"He's very special."