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Malik Monk Update: Team USA, Kentucky Interest, Marcus Monk, More

What's going on with the most highly-sought basketball recruit out of Arkansas in a generation?

These are excerpts from a longer post on my site - you can read it in its entirety here.

Monk, a consensus Top 15 player in the class of 2016, had a memorable summer torching foes as a headliner with the Arkansas Wings in Nike’s prestigious EYBL circuit (essentially, the Champions League of prep basketball). The 6’3″ shooting guard broke scoring records and put up 40 and 59 points while making a strong case that Arkansas, for likely the first time ever, is home to the nation’s most electrifying high school player*.  The Arkansas Wings founder Ron Crawford, who has coached in the U.S. youth developmental system, said last week he believed there was "no doubt" Monk would make the U17 national team.

But after a three-day audition in Colorado involving 33 players, Monk was among the first cut.

But Malik isn’t yet the well-rounded player his coaches and (potential) national team coaches want him to be. In the five games he played in the EYBL Finals, the only standard statistical category he led the Wings in was points (18.8 ppg). He finished second in blocks (0.4) and assists (2.6), third in steals (1.6) and fifth in rebounds (3.5).


It looks like Kentucky is making a move...

In early July, Monk had a chance to learn firsthand from one of the world’s most efficient basketball players when he attended the LeBron James Skills Academy.  James is "really active with his camp. He takes time with all the players," recalled Marcus Monk, who attended the event as an observer.

Since James and and Kentucky head coach John Calipari are close friends, it’s likely information and insight into how players perform at LeBron’s camp eventually reaches Calipari. Kentucky offered Malik a scholarship earlier this summer and many of its fans are excited about the prospect of him joining "Big Blue Nation."

Malik told the Kentucky offer is "big" because "it helps get your name out" and he likes how Calipari helps his players improve and land in the pros. "I am striving to be a one-and-done player (in college), and he’s shown he can do that for you."

Some Kentucky fans also believe the Wildcats have an advantage because another Arkansas Wings alum, Archie Goodwin, chose their school over Arkansas in 2011. The two Arkansans have talked, but they do not hang out much. Other Kentucky fans worry that aspects of Goodwin’s experience at Kentucky – especially the harsh reception he got in Fayetteville last season when the Wildcats visited – could be a deterrent.

And we have an update on that:


On his brother Marcus:

Last year, Marcus served as a manager on the UA basketball staff. He won’t return to that position this fall, he told me. That’s because the position, like a graduate assistant in football, requires the manager to take graduate credit. But Marcus already graduated with a Master’s of Business Administration degree earlier this summer and has no intention of starting another program.

At this point, Marcus doesn’t even know if he will stay in northwest Arkansas this upcoming school year. "I’m still just debating and feeling my way out with my options. I don’t really want to speak on it."

He’d rather talk about his younger brother, who has tantalized the nation with his jaw-dropping athleticism while (I’m sure) at times frustrating his coaches and teammates with erratic shooting. Lost in all the hype and concern over future college choices, though, is the fact that Malik is still 16 years old. Marcus Monk is very conscious of keeping things as normal as possible for him.

Read it all here.