BENTONVILLE - Malik Monk led the way, but the Bentonville junior got plenty of help on Sunday as the Arkansas Wings captured the 17-and-under title at The Warmup AAU Tournament this weekend.
Monk had 16 points, Little Rock Parkview’s Ryan Pippins 14 and Van Buren’s Mitchell Smith 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Wings completed an unbeaten run by knocking off Elfrid Payton Elite 64-56 in the championship game.
Fayetteville junior guard Payton Willis added seven points for the Wings, who will begin action in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League next weekend in Virginia.
“If we are not casual, if we are aggressive than I think we can be the best team in the country,” Wings head coach Charles Baker said. “We tend to have lulls from time-to-time.
“This weekend we have done that, but our defense has been so good, it hasn’t mattered. To be honest with you, I am sitting here wondering if we are really, really good or have we been playing some bad teams.”
New Orleans 2015 prep star Melvin Frazier had 12 for the losing squad.
Monk had several key baskets late after the EPE squad cut a 14-point lead down to 51-49 with just over three minutes left.
“The trick with him is to get him to play as well as anybody in the country - like a top five player in the country - but in an efficient way that involves everybody and we have to have everybody playing hard,” Baker said.
“He has done that this weekend. I have talked to him about it and he understands that and has made an effort to do it.
“But by the same token, if he goes off on one of those tangents like he did today, I’m okay with that, too.”
The Arkansas Wings’ 16-and-under team - featuring 7-3 Arkansas Baptist ninth grader Connor Vanover - also grabbed a title with a 52-46 win over EPE.
Wings Fly Home With The Warmup Titles
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