BENTONVILLE – Malik Monk has always relished challenges and the Bentonville junior guard had one in front of him on Saturday night that he answered emphatically.
Monk – the fifth-best player in the 2016 class per Scout.com - poured in 45 points and grabbed five rebounds as he led the Tigers to a 86-77 win over St. Louis Chaminade in the nightcap of the ESPN 99.5 Classic.
He hit 12-of-24 field goals and 18-of-18 free throws while staking a claim to the top ranking while playing against Chaminade’s Jayson Tatum, the nation’s top-ranked junior who had 31 points and 18 rebounds in the game.
“It is a goal of his to be the best, but to me rankings don’t really matter,” noted his older brother Marcus Monk, the former Arkansas football and basketball star. “He just wants to keep improving every day and work on helping make his teammates better.
“He is getting better and it is just maturation,” Monk added. “You can see as he gets older that he is starting to understand the game more. A simple thing like getting to the free throw line more.
“Those are thing that just come with age,” Monk continued. “I have to be patient with him, but he works hard and wants to be the best.”
Monk shined in front of a crowd that included Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and assistant Melvin Watkins along with their families and the entire No. 25-ranked Razorback basketball team.
“Arkansas is doing a great job recruiting him,” Monk said. “They are staying in constant contact. They came tonight and brought their families with them and the whole team was over there watching.
“They have been playing great, very solid,” said Monk, who was an undergraduate assistant for the Razorbacks last season. “The camaraderie is great. They all support each other and they all want to achieve the same goal. They look good and he and I both see that.”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg were also on hand for a game that also featured another top 100 player in Chaminade’s 6-8, 240-pound Tyler Cook (15 points).
Both joined Anderson in taking pictures with the fans on hand.
“All these guys – Malik, Jason and Tyler – play summer basketball and it’s old hat to have those guys watching them,” Monk said. “It is way more exciting for the fans to see those guys than the players.
“The main thing is they just wanted to be there to show their support for the players,” Monk added.
“Really we are waiting until this season is over with,” Monk said. “A lot of schools have been coming through Bentonville to see him.
“One thing is I want him to be able to make this decision freely and visit the places that he would like to,” Monk added. “He will get to have his own personal account of things and his own opinions.”
The younger Monk will not sign until the spring of his senior season per the older Monk.
“He’s definitely in no hurry and he is definitely going to sign late,” Monk said. “He is blessed enough that he doesn’t have to hurry to make a decision.
“Coaches get fired, line ups change, a lot of things happen after the season starts,” Monk added. “So he is blessed enough that he can wait and see what happens during the season and make a decision.”
Monk said his brother will definitely not go the route of SMU signee Emmanuel Mudiay, a 2014 Dallas high school star who signed with the Chinese Basketball League and will enter the 2015 NBA draft.
“No, absolutely not,” Monk said. “He needs to experience college. There are things that are priceless in my opinion and the college experience is one of them. However many years it is, he needs to experience that.”
Arkansas signee Jimmy Whitt had 42 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and six assists in the opener as his Columbia, Mo., Hickman team downed Arkansas Baptist 67-41.
Whitt was 17-of-27 from the field, hit 4-of-8 3-pointers and hit 4-of-5 free throws with no turnovers in the win while Arkansas Baptist 7-1 ninth grader Connor Vanover had 3 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
The event happened before a sold out crowd at Bentonville High School.
“It was great,” Monk said. “The fans came out and supported it. It was live in here and the players all came out and played hard and competed.
“We are really looking forward to it next year and making it bigger and better,” Monk added.
Monk Rises To The Occasion Again
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