A day long feared has finally arrived.
Malik Monk will not be a Razorback. He will sign with Kentucky, presumably later today since Wednesday is the last day of the early signing period.
Monk had long been rumored to Kentucky, but many of Arkansas' basketball recruiting reporters said after Monk's official visit to Arkansas a couple of weeks ago, a visit Bobby Portis even flew in for, that things were trending in Arkansas' direction. Obviously, it wasn't enough.
There are plenty of rumors flying around, including a tweet from 103.7 The Buzz's Trey Schaap, that Malik wanted to sign with Arkansas but Marcus Monk made him sign with Kentucky. I don't know how true that is. I've also heard those rumors. It's certainly possible, but I don't believe that Malik wasn't attracted to UK at all. The Wildcats are obviously set up to offer things only the most elite basketball programs can offer, and unfortunately, Arkansas hasn't been at that level for a long time.
Also, for the record, Marcus did always insist the decision would be entirely up to Malik, and that if he wanted to come to Arkansas, he could. I suppose whether or not you choose to believe that is up to you. Malik has certainly never given any public indication he was leaning toward Arkansas, even releasing an Instagram photo a week ago blending the Arkansas, Kentucky, and Kansas uniforms together.
It is worth wondering if the leaked story that he was leaning toward Arkansas was done to sell tickets to local high school basketball tournaments in Northwest Arkansas featuring Monk's Bentonville High School team (those games are currently taking out ads on local sports talk radio shows trying to sell tickets frequently using a line that's some variation of "come see Malik Monk"). That's another theory, but again, nothing to substantiate it. But this is how the drawn-out recruitment of a high profile prospect goes these days.
If it is true that Marcus didn't want him in Fayetteville, I certainly find it incredible that someone who played on the same Razorback team as Darren McFadden would think a star player at Arkansas would have trouble with his branding efforts.
As for Arkansas, the Razorbacks still have one open scholarship for the 2016 class. After looking at who is already committed and the current roster, the Hogs may actually look to use if for a big man to give the roster more balance, but the Hogs may not use it until the spring signing period in April.
The 2016-17 basketball schedule has yet to be released, but since Kentucky is playing at Bud Walton Arena this season, Arkansas should be expected to play in Lexington next year. However, the SEC will rotate two new teams for Arkansas to play twice, which could include Kentucky, but it's definitely not certain. We probably won't know until the SEC basketball schedule is released late next summer.
Also, Bobby Portis has spoken:
I didn't need Kentucky to make it to the NBA but thats none of my business ☕️— BOBBY BP PORTIS (@BPortistime) November 18, 2015
That's some solid branding.