How he got here
Arkansas native Malik Monk elevated himself onto the national stage at a tender age. As a freshman Monk attended events such as USA Basketball workouts, and even before the calendar year 2013 he’d picked up offers from Arkansas, Florida and LSU — a clear indicator that he was the real deal.
Monk’s story received some beneficial foreshadowing. His brother, Marcus, played football for the Razorbacks and also was a fixture on the AAU circuit during the early ‘00s.
But even Marcus would tell you that Malik possesses talent on a different order. His younger brother at times dominated the Elite 100 in the 2013 summer, showcasing elite scoring ability as only a rising sophomore.
|Monk’s transition scoring is sublime|
Monk entered the 2014 travel season ready to make a splash at the 17-under level. Playing with the Arkansas Wings on the EYBL circuit, he became a marquee attraction wherever he took the court. He averaged a prolific 21 points per game despite playing up a year, adding four rebounds, four assists and two steals per outing as well.
He took on mythic proportions at the Peach Jam last July. Though he actually didn’t play as consistently well as he had earlier in the travel season, Monk was so spectacular that the fans in North Augusta, S.C., gravitated toward Wings games each time they took the floor.
Monk’s exploits above the rim and flying endline to endline have made him the frequent subject of highlight reels, and that athleticism if anything has obscured the more skilled aspects of his game.
Listing his offers is almost superfluous at this point; Monk will get to call his shot on college. Many naturally believe Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks will loom large, while Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina and many others also remain in pursuit.
To 2015. …
We try not to succumb to hype here at Scout, and as such there’s more to watch with Monk than the highlights. Make no mistake: Blessed with extraordinary explosion and a naturally strong frame, he could take his physical gifts all the way to the top. But for a player currently No. 5 in our rankings, we obviously believe he can do even more.
Monk will need to tame his athleticism just a touch. At times, he careens out of control and either forces a bad shot or commits a turnover. His fullcourt dribbling is fine, but he needs polish has a handler against pressure. Being 6-4 makes him sufficiently tall for the wing for the remainder of his career, but to become a more efficient halfcourt scorer, gaining dribbling prowess will be key.
Monk shot 44 percent with the Wings last year, not great and not terrible, but he hoisted a lot of threes (162 in 21 games) while hitting just 32 percent. He’s a dynamo when attacking the basket and getting ahead in transition, but improving his shot selection from deep will bring up his accuracy — because he does have good touch — and again, improving his ballhandling will enable him to become less dribble-reliant.
Just consider that he shot 77 percent from the free throw line. Monk doesn’t need to add a lot so much as refine the things he already can do. He’ll likely frustrate a college coach as a freshman because he’ll need to be reigned in slightly, but he’s the kind of player who could improved dramatically within a season.
Beyond his offense, Monks projects as a big-time defender and should blossom on that end of the court as he matures.
I’d say he projects as a potential All-American sophomore, but let’s not kid ourselves about his odds of becoming a college sophomore. Monk is without question one of the most illustrious talents in a strong Class of 2016.