After a relatively homebound June, July is heating up for the top sports recruit in the state of Arkansas. Bentonville High senior Malik Monk is hitting the road for multiple showcases and tournaments while fielding questions about whose college’s fans he will eventually overjoy.
Last week Monk was at the Nike Basketball Academy in California, where he told reporter Sheila Mikailli he will announce his Top 5 schools in the weeks following the Peach Jam on July 8-12. That South Carolina-based tourney has in the last few years become the summer circuit’s most competitive basketball event as the championship round of Nike’s highly competitive Elite Youth Basketball League.
He and his older brother/mentor Marcus Monk haven’t tipped their hand toward any specific school, but it’s difficult to believe programs like Arkansas and Kentucky won’t make Monk’s Top 5 cut. Monk knows the Hog program inside and out, not only through his brother and cousin Rashad “Ky” Madden – both former Razorbacks – but also through friends like Bobby Portis, a former Arkansas Wings star. Monk told me he talks to Portis about twice a week.
As far as Kentucky goes, Malik’s stated goal is to be an NBA superstar. He’s a guard. Kentucky specializes in producing star NBA guards. The reasoning for inclusion here is hard to argue. Indeed, when in the last few years has a Top-10 guard offered a scholarship by Kentucky not put the Wildcats in his Top 5?
Here’s the rest of Mikailli’s interview with the nation’s top-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2016:
Q: What are you looking for in a school? What’s going to be the “it” factor for you?
A: Coaches – just pushing me hard off the court. Good teammates and, really, just chemistry.
Q: I know a lot of people have talked about your brother and how he’s helped you through this process. But you’re out here right now with a lot of NBA guys and some college guys. Have they given you any advice about the recruiting process?
A: Not really, I haven’t talked to any about it. But I know some can help me with it, so I might ask a couple questions.
Q: Are there any guys in the NBA who you’re close with, that you talk with even if isn’t about recruiting?
A: KD. Yeah, I talk to him a lot.
Q: What have you been working on with your game this summer?
A: Just being a lockdown defender and more efficient.
Q: Whichever team you choose, what do you think you can bring to them?
A: Energy, leadership …. and a lot of scoring.
Q: You’re at the Nike Basketball Academy. Obviously, Nike shoes are a big thing. I want to know: what are your favorite shoes to rock on and off the court?
A: On the court, I like the Kyries and Kobes. But off the court, I like Jordans. That’s how I roll. I like the 11 lows or the 11s.
Q: Who do you think in the League has the best shoe game?
A: Hmmmm [studied paused]. JR Smith [knowing nod].
Q: Oh.. Oh, OK. What is one movie you never get tired of watching?
A: The Purge
Q: Who are the top three guys in your [music] playlist right now?
A: Kevin Gates, Lil Bibby and Lil Herb.
Q: Finally, if you could build your own dream team – taking guys from the NBA, college, AAU, wherever – who would be your team?
A: KD, LeBron James, Kobe, Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis.
Q: You wouldn’t be on it?
A: [Smile] I don’t need to be on it.