The NBA just recently posted articles on each player in the draft, today we look at Malik Monk.
Lepanto, Arkansas, current population 1,853, a graveled driveway road where his grandfather often sat in his green truck, that’s where Malik Monk is from.
Malik Monk started his playing career on the outside courts called “The Woodz” in which was called “Malik Monk country.”
Soon, the stories start to flow. About how the basketball court used to be the neighborhood swimming pool during the days of segregation. About how the park is filled with townspeople and the smell of fried fish once church lets out on Sundays, when the rules on the court are “no blood, no foul” and “we party til the police say it’s against the law to be black.” About how, despite this lingering tension, “everybody gets along and you can get a favor.”
Mark Giannotto, USA TODAY NETWORK
Malik Monk developed at The Woodz, but he fully recognized his potential as a player when his family moved across the state when he was in high school, to Bentonville, nearer to where his brother was completing his MBA at Arkansas in 2014. Most folks in the state expected Malik Monk to follow Marcus to Fayetteville and the Razorbacks after Malik averaged almost 27 points a game for Bentonville his junior season, and was MVP of the Nike Global Challenge.
David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Malik Monk shocked the world(well everyone in Arkansas) when he committed to Kentucky. He become the most hated person in Arkansas by the fans, but loved in Kentucky.
His decision to go to the NBA after one season was an easy one for Kentucky fans to swallow because we knew he deserved to shine. He deserves the chance to be on the big stage where he always dreamed of.
To check out the full article they wrote click here.
Below is a quick Q&A with Malik himself by TNT analyst David Aldridge:
Me: You went with Jeff Schwarz and Excel to represent you. How did you make that choice?
Malik Monk: Me and my brother. Just sat around and talked about it. Jeff looked out for us first instead of himself … He didn’t care about himself about anything. He talked about us. He didn’t say his name with anything until later on.
Me: I know you’re really close with your brother. What’s the biggest thing he helps you with?
MM: Day to day life. I live, we live in Rye, Rye, N.Y., because of our agent, Jeff is in New York. He got us a house up there. My brother is with me, goes with me everywhere. He’ll be with me next year. He just got me through everyday life, just helped me with decisions.
Me: I don’t know if you were old enough when he was making his choices, about college –
MM: I was in kindergarten.
Me: So you weren’t old enough. But what has he told you about that process that he went through that’s helped you out now?
MM: It’s your decision. With the college, it’s your decision. Make sure that you’re looking out for you first, then look out for your family, our family, which is him and my mom. Then other than that, he said, just make sure you’re having fun, and feel like you’re at home. So I picked Kentucky.
Me: So what was the toughest conversation you had to have with somebody about why you weren’t going to Arkansas?
MM: Why? Yeah, why? The reason why. That was the toughest one … if I go to Arkansas, and I’m not happy, but they’re happy, what’s the point of going there? If I go to Kentucky, and I’m happy, but they’re mad, it’s still me. I’ve got to be happy. It really wasn’t anybody that stood out, but all the fans in Arkansas, they were sad. But I had to do what I had to do.
Me: I’m sure you knew the history of the one and dones at Kentucky and that was a big factor. But was style of play — the dribble-drive offense, showcasing my game, etc. — also important to you?
MM: It was really me, Cal telling me, that I was going to have to get off the ball, and take that challenge. ‘Cause I’ve been on the ball my whole life. So me going off the ball, and just being, every day I’m going up against [De’Aaron] Fox, [Isaiah] Briscoe, somebody that’s going to be on this level with me. So I just had to choose that.
Me: You hear from any of the young pros from Kentucky like Book (Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker) about the adjustment?
MM: DBook, you said him. Him and Tyler Ulis, I talk to them all the time. They came back to Kentucky and played with us.
Me: What’s the best lesson you learned playing in The Woodz?
MM: Don’t fall. Don’t fall on that concrete. (Laughs) Nah, the biggest lesson probably was you can’t give up. It don’t matter what size you are, or whatever; you can’t give up.
Me: Did Marcus give you something to shoot for, a goal — I can be at his level, or I can be above where he got?
MM: That it was my decision. If I quit basketball now, he’s not going to care. Whatever I choose to do, he’s going to be behind me. So everything that I do is my decision.
Me: When you look at the NBA now and everyone playing small ball, it seems like this is tailor made for you.
MM: Yeah, it’s great. Everybody’s shooting, no bigs, really. Everybody can be around the perimeter, so I love it.
Me: Was any game — other than the Carolina game — one where you really felt you showed what you could do on the next level?
MM: I had a lot — Georgia, Florida, the tournament a little bit, Ole Miss, the first SEC game, on the road…all SEC, I think I did pretty good.
Me: You envision yourself as a combo, a one or a two in the pros?
MM: A combo. It’s really not even, I don’t label Steph Curry as a point guard. And you can’t label Russ [Westbrook] as a two guard. It’s combo. You’ve got to be able to do both.
Me: When you watch the league, who do you really like watching?
MM: DBook, DeMar DeRozan, Westbrook, Lou Williams, CJ McCollum, Dame [Lillard] … what I’m doing right now, I see them doing. And they’ve been doing it their whole lives.
I know I’m not alone in saying this but I already miss Malik Monk being a Kentucky uniform. However, I am very excited to see him shine in the NBA, on the biggest stage. Go chase your dreams Malik, Big Blue Nation will always support you.