Elite Wing Recruit: Marcus Monk

Finding the 'next Josh Childress' is probably a foolhardy and unfair pursuit, but the reality is that Stanford's junior phenom might make the jump to the NBA this spring. That puts a little more urgency in Mike Montgomery's search for an athletically elite small forward, which may find its answer in Arkansas. There Stanford has found nationally rated Marcus Monk, who has the Cardinal as one of this top schools.

If you have been surfing around the Internet lately and checking out the multitude of recruit rankings for this 2004 class, without question the top dog you have seen across the board who Stanford is recruiting is Marcus Monk from Lepanto, Arkansas. Monk is a consensus top 75 player nationally, and has that rounded do-it-all game that can drive, shoot and rebound from any wing position. He averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals per game in his junior season at East Poinsett County, playing wherever his team needed him in a given game. At 6'6" he could post up inside and use his lateral quickness to abuse post defenders, or he could put the ball on the floor from the perimeter and attack the basket.

"I've got an all-around game, I guess," Monk modestly admits. "I can play the 'one,' 'two' or the 'three,' but I prefer to play as a shooting guard. People talk about offense, but I also pride myself in my defense. I love going out to try and shut down the other guy. I'm not necessarily a great rebounder, but I try to crash the boards and I come down with a lot of them. Offensively, I take whatever I can get from the opposing team, and then find ways to score. But I think I can raise my skill level this summer, rather than just relying on athleticism. I'd also like to add a little weight and strength, beyond my current 200 pounds."

Right now, Monk is playing a full slate of AAU summer basketball with the Arkansas Hawks. Spring events included tournaments in Houston and North Carolina, while his travels during the summer are taking him to Virginia, Colorado Springs, New Jersey, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Texas. He says that his primary aim right now is to improve the range on his jump shot, which is something I'll be watching closely when I see him next week at the Adidas Big Time in Vegas.

But there will also be a grand host of college coaches watching him throughout this July evaluation period as well, though 'evaluation' is not what they will be doing. Monk has already established himself as an elite talent in this class, and those coaches will instead be pushing their brightly colored polo shirts (bearing the symbols and logos of their respective schools) and their faces in visible positions. While some players require actual scouting at this time, Monk is one coaches are trying to lure by showing as much face time as possible.

The Arkansas standout already holds offers Boston College, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and others. The prevailing logic has been that the local powers of Arkansas and Oklahoma hold the strongest position with the wing forward, though he is keeping his cards close to his vest. "They're both good schools," he allows. "I've visited both, though you wouldn't think I've taken just one unofficial to Arkansas. My official visit to Oklahoma was nice, especially the atmosphere. Everybody was cool."

What you probably didn't know was that Monk was very close to taking an official trip to Stanford during the spring, but had to cancel it at the last minute because of a conflict at school. "Stanford's academics are the best you can get," he comments. "They are definitely one of my serious schools. I would like to take a visit."

Monk has also been diligent about his Stanford admissions application, which is necessary before Mike Montgomery can hand out a full scholarship offer. "I'm doing my essays right now and hope to have it in as soon as possible," he describes.

But what will this top 2004 talent be looking for in his college choice? Could local options be more tempting to the Arkansas native? "Distance doesn't bother me, honestly," he answers. "I'm most interested in playing time, academics, a place where I feel at home, and a great coaching staff."

Academics is a theme you will always take home when you talk with Monk, or read one of his interviews. After all, he holds a 3.97 GPA right now to go with a 1030 SAT. "I got one B in trigonometry first semester, but that's it," he elaborates. "I take a lot of pride in school. And that SAT came the beginning of my junior year. I plan on taking it againt early my senior year."

Monk also appears in no great rush to end his recruitment, instead focusing on summer basketball. And soon he will turn his attention to his senior football season. Monk is a phenomenal wide receiver who pulled down 52 passes for 19 touchdowns and better than 1100 yards his junior year, though there are doubts that he will pursue gridiron competition at the college level. His recruitment has primarily been in basketball, at his request, and he says that only after the end of the AAU season will he sit down and start to narrow his school list.

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