Maya Makalusky was not always in the spotlight on the basketball court.
When the guard lived in Colorado during her elementary school years, she wasn’t playing in any sort of AAU or travel league. When she was around eight years old, Makalusky started playing in a recreational league — the type of league where all players get participation trophies at the end of the season, where future Division I players can mix it up with kids who would quit basketball by the end of the year.
Makalusky remembered wearing a wristband that reminded her of her defensive matchup. It was far from the highest level she’ll play at in her life, but it allowed her to have fun on the court at an early age.
And even after committing to play collegiately at Indiana, Makalusky still has fond memories of her rec ball days.
“I think definitely the adrenaline high when you score a bucket (sticks out),” Makalusky said. “You’re just so young at that age. You get to run around, score buckets. It’s just fun memories of playing a game that I’ve loved. And I think for it to be able to take me to amazing places like IU, I’m so blessed in this position. So I’m super excited.”
The guard became IU’s first commit in the class of 2025 on June 25.
Makalusky was born in Indiana, but moved to Colorado when she was young and lived there for five to six years. She moved back to Fishers in fifth grade, and that’s when she started to take basketball more seriously.
She started training at M14Hoops Indy, and began setting high goals for herself on the court. She began envisioning herself playing at Hamilton Southeastern High and drawing collegiate interest.
Makalusky credited her parents and her trainers for encouraging her to dream big. The basketball environment in Indiana helped as well — seeing players like Sydney Parrish and incoming UConn freshman Ashlynn Shade succeed made Makalusky want to become even better.
Parrish also played at Hamilton Southeastern, and has been a role model for Makalusky dating back to her own high school days.
“She just always loved on me. No matter how big-time she got, she never was too good to talk to me, or take the time just to spend with me. Even when she was in high school, she would always make sure to come and hug me and say, ‘Hey.’ And she still does that today,” Makalusky said. “She’s never changed as a person, which means so much to me and all the little girls that are still supporting her and want to be her.”
Makalusky grew up around the game. Her mother, Jenn, played at Villanova, but didn’t want to force basketball on her children. So Maya played other sports like soccer and volleyball, in addition to basketball, when she was younger.
But she and her sister, Riley, fell in love with the game themselves. Riley is set to join Butler women’s basketball this fall.
Growing up in a family so intertwined with basketball greatly impacted Makalusky.
“I think they’ve really been able to push me but also help me with any questions I’ve had,” Makalusky said. “Watching my sister go through it was so helpful for me just to see how humble she was and how she kind of took on all the pressure. And my mom, of course, she’s been through the whole (recruiting) process. So asking her questions, talking about it after we went on visits, and her really helping me ask the right questions.”
Makalusky is a strong 3-point shooter, and has two more years in high school to get even better. She said she’s trying to continue improving as a defender and a rebounder, areas she knows are important at the collegiate level.
IU saw her potential early and offered her a scholarship in October, ahead of her sophomore season at HSE. As an in-state player, that was a big deal for Makalusky. And the more she talked to IU coaches and players, the more she saw the Hoosiers as the right fit.
Makalusky’s other offers included Maryland, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Oregon, and Butler. She found the Bulldogs the most difficult to turn down, given her sister’s commitment.
But Indiana sold her on its strong program culture.
“I know when I go there, they’re going to push me to be my best person on and off the court. And just the way that they care about you as a person really means a lot,” Makalusky said. “They’re not just going to go out and look for anybody that can score them buckets, but they’re going to look for good kids too. That definitely stood out to me.”
The growing external culture of IU women’s basketball was also notable for Makalusky. She’s watched the program’s ascent to a national power over the last several years, and experienced the raucous atmospheres that engulfed Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
It’s still early in the recruiting cycle for the class of 2025 — IU’s class of 2024 is not yet complete. But Makalusky felt strongly enough about head coach Teri Moren and her program to commit early.
“I didn’t really plan on it the day I committed, but it was a place that I knew fit me perfectly. After I went on visits, I’d just constantly compare any school to IU, and that’s when I knew I want to be there. I want to be home and play for Indiana. Wearing Indiana across your chest is something that you just can’t describe,” Makalusky said. “Hearing how much they care, knowing that they’ll push me to be better, it made me excited. It is early, but I was excited to make the decision because it was something I knew I wanted to be a part of.”
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