Monk's Meteoric Rise

East Poinsett County sophomore Malik Monk (6-4, 175) may be a homebody, but he has spent the summer traveling across the country and even spent a week in Fayetteville as he finishes off a year that has seen a meteoric rise from obscurity to being a household name.

LITTLE ROCK - There were just a very few people inside the state of Arkansas – mostly basketball insiders and people in Lepanto - who knew just how good a freshman season Malik Monk (6-4, 175) was likely to have in 2012-2013.

Now there are very few – if any - college head coaches across the nation who don't know the name and game of the younger brother of former University of Arkansas football and basketball star Marcus Monk.

It's been a meteoric rise after a rookie season in which the shooting guard averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 asssists and led his East Poinsett County team to the Class 3A state championship game and then took a starring role this spring on the Arkansas Wings' 16-and-under AAU team.

It's earned him an early scholarship offer from Arkansas, interest from Florida and numerous other colleges and a recent invitation – along with Razorback 2014 point guard commit Anton Beard - to the three-day LeBron James Nike Skills Camp, which begins Saturday in Las Vegas.

"He's handling it all well," Marcus Monk said of Malik. "He has maintained his humbleness and his composure. He is a real homebody so that helps. He is not out that much and usually when he is, he is in the gym. He just enjoys being around his teammates.

"As adults, me and my mother and his coaches, it is our job to kind of shelter him as well as all the kids and make sure they enjoy (playing basketball)," Marcus Monk said. "That's got to be our main thing. He enjoys it and it is going well for him."

Monk, on hand for the Wings Showcase Tuesday afternoon at Pulaski Academy, is a consensus top 10 player nationally in the 2016 class.

"It's been a really good year for me, but I have just tried to remain humble and work hard every day to get better," Monk said. "I know that I need to remain hungry and not think I have made it or something like that. My brother wouldn't let me do that anyway."

Indeed, Marcus Monk has become an everyday presence in his brother's life now that his overseas professional basketball career has ended.

"It is something that I am learning on the fly because I am his brother first and I don't want to ever lose that relationship with him," the older Monk said. "So we have got to balance it. I can get on him, but then you have got to hug him at the end of it.

"He has been blessed to have been coached by a lot of great coaches at these camps so it is not just my voice he hears all the time," Marcus Monk added. "I try to lean back during the games and just let Coach Swift and the other coaches be the voices that he hears and coach him up."

One of the highlights of the 15-year-old Monk's summer has been his participation in the USA Basketball Under 16 Men's Developmental Team selection process.

He made it through last year's October tryouts and was one of 16 finalists named in June for the Developmental Team before an ankle injury kept him from being one of the 12 on the travel squad and left him as an alternate.

"It was a good experience and there was a lot of people there that I got to showcase my talents in front of," Monk said. "It showed me what I am capable of and it was fun competing against some of the people I am going to see in the next few years. I was doing pretty well at the camp up until I turned my ankle."

His older brother was out of the country, but did his research.

"I am told that he played really well," Marcus Monk said. "I was actually in India at the time. He played well, but it is a 16-and-under team and he is just 15. So the great thing is that he has another opportunity to make it next year. But I did also let him know that just because he made it this far this year doesn't mean he can rest on his laurels and think he is guaranteed to make it next year."

"He has already been invited back for the tryouts in October and he'll go through the same regimen, tryouts and routine and have the opportunity to make it again," Monk added.

He also shined at the Nike Top 100 in St. Louis in early June, which earned him this write up from Scout national recruiting analyst Brian Snow:

"Monk might have been the best athlete and scorer from the 2016 class in attendance," Snow writes. "He can flat out put the ball in the basket and he does it from all three levels on the floor. Monk might be most comfortable attacking the rim and finishing that way, but he shoots it well and also has a nice mid-range jumper. Still he needs to focus a little more on efficiency as opposed to just going out and dominating the ball, but there is no questioning the upside of Monk who scored it as well as any player at the camp."

Monk will finish up at the LeBron James Camp and then head to North Augusta, S.C., where he and the Wings will be one of the favorites to win the EYBL 16-and-under championship.

He is playing on an ultra-talented Wings squad that also includes Jonesboro junior guard Marquise Pointer (6-1, 185), Memphis Melrose junior guard Marlon Hunter (6-2, 160), New Orleans prep forward Melvin Frazier (6-5, 177) and 2015 Memphis Evangical Christian center Skal Labissiere (6-10, 200).

Labissiere, a top 10 player nationally in the 2015 class, was not on hand Tuesday because of a church trip to Washington, D.C but that didn't stop the Wings 16 team from hammering its 15-and-under counterparts 63-34 and then the organization's 17-and-under team 68-45.

"They are all great teammates, we share the ball a lot and we all really compete," Monk said.

Both Monks spent last week in Fayetteville helping former Razorback and current NBA player Ronnie Brewer with his Brew Crew youth basketball camps.

That gave the younger Monk a chance to be around and play pick-up games with the current Razorbacks.

"Arkansas' players work really hard on the court and in the weight room to get better," Monk said. "It's good experience for them and you can see they are going to be better this season than they were last season."

Malik Monk has noted how much he likes Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson.

"I like him and I like his style of play," Monk said. "It really fits me – run and execute, play hard and just really get after it on defense."

Arkansas will have to fend off fellow SEC suitors and many other teams around the nation.

"Arkansas has offered and Florida seems very interested while LSU and Alabama have sent me a couple of letters," Monk said.

"Anybody who thinks they know where I am going to go is just talking," Monk said. "They couldn't know where I am going because I don't know. I am still so young and I have a lot of schools coming at me, but I am from Arkansas. That's a big deal to me."

The older Monk says the Razorbacks are doing things right in terms of recruiting his younger brother.

"As far as Arkansas, they are doing a great job," Monk said. "They show interest and let him know that he has a scholarship. They are recruiting him and letting him know they want him to be a big part of the puzzle to what they are building.

"He has several other teams interested, but the only concrete offer right now is Arkansas and it means a lot to him," Monk added. "The one thing he doesn't do is get caught up in who is in the stands. I tell him there is certainly no point in getting caught up in that now. He just needs to enjoy himself and recruiting will come later."

Now that he will be the guy in every gym he is in from now on, the older Monk is trying to mentor the younger one in lots of ways.

"It is just something that we work on as far as being a young adult," Monk said. "I try to emphasize to him that people aren't going to understand that you are just 15 years old. You have got to grow up fast, you have to be careful what you put online with social networks. When you are in the gym, you have to be careful with your body language because all eyes are going to be on you. I emphasize body language, talking up your teammates and that is stuff that he will grow into.

"That's something that I have noticed this summer – he has matured a lot," Monk added. "He's still quiet, but he is talking more on the court, he is interacting more with his teammates. He is maturing. He is only 15 as of February."

Malik Monk

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