Ranked as the eleventh-best prospect in the Class of 2016 per 247Sports.com’s composite rankings, Kentucky guard Malik Monk was expected to be a standout this season. And thus far he’s lived up to the billing, averaging 21.9 points per game with shooting percentages of 50.3 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three.
Malik’s journey from Lepanto, Arkansas to Lexington, Kentucky has been a shared one, with his mother Jacaynlene Monk and older brother Marcus being instrumental figures in Malik’s life. Here’s what you need to know about Marcus Monk, who was a very good athlete in his own right.
1. Marcus Helped Lead East Poinsett HS to a State Title as a Senior
Marcus Monk enjoyed a highly productive four-year run at East Poinsett High School in Lepanto, Arkansas, racking up noteworthy achievements both on the courts and fields of play and in the classroom. Monk was a high-level two-sport athlete at East Poinsett, featuring in both football and basketball. As a senior in 2004, Monk helped lead the basketball team to an Arkansas Class AAA state title. In the championship game, a 77-45 win over Osceola High School, Monk racked up 34 points, 17 rebounds and six assists and he was named the Most Valuable Player of the state tournament as a result.
Named Mr. Basketball in Arkansas in 2004, Monk was also the valedictorian of his graduating class and a recipient of a National High School Scholar-Athlete Award from the Little Rock Touchdown Club chapter of the National Football Foundation. Monk was an Honor Roll student for each of his eight semesters at East Poinsett, and he was also president of both his senior class and the National Honor Society.
2. Marcus Played Four Seasons of Football at Arkansas
Following his standout career at East Poinsett, Marcus matriculated to the University of Arkansas where he was a wide receiver for then-head coach Houston Nutt from 2004-07. As a freshman Monk, regarded as one of the top incoming recruits in the SEC, caught 37 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns. As a result Monk was an SEC All-Freshman Team selection, and he followed that debut season with 35 receptions for 476 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore in 2005.
Monk’s best season would be his junior year, as he finished with 50 receptions for 962 yards and 11 touchdown. The 11 touchdown receptions were a single-season school record at the time, with Jarius Wright taking over the top spot with 12 touchdown catches in 2011. Monk’s senior season was plagued by injuries, and he currently ranks tied for sixth on the school’s list for most receiving yards (2,151) in a career and first in career receiving touchdowns (27). Monk’s junior season (2006) ranks fifth in program history with regards to receiving yards.
3. Monk Also Played Basketball for Parts of Two Seasons at Arkansas
Monk’s basketball career at Arkansas was brief, as he played in ten games during the 2004-05 season and eight during the 2008-09 campaign. Monk finished is hoops career in Fayetteville with averages of 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. His return to Fayetteville for the 2008-09 season came following his being cut in training camp by the New York Giants. As he had not gone pro in basketball, Monk was able to return to play for then-head coach John Pelphrey.
And in his third game with the team that season, Monk scored 12 points in a 96-88 win over then-No. 4 Oklahoma at Bud Walton Arena. Among the players on that Oklahoma team was eventual first-overall pick Blake Griffin, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out. Monk’s 2008-09 season would come to an end after just eight games, with an NCAA investigation calling into question his amateur status.
4. Monk Was a Professional Athlete in Both Football and Basketball
Marcus Monk’s sports career is interesting in that he was able to return to Fayetteville to play basketball in 2008-09 after beginning his professional football career. Monk was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, 248th overall, by the Chicago Bulls. Still hampered by microfracture surgery on his right knee that limited him to seven games as a college senior, Monk would be cut during training camp. Monk was signed by the New York Giants shortly thereafter but would be cut just before the start of the 2008 season.
Monk went to camp with the Carolina Panthers in 2009 but was cut prior to the start of the 2009 regular season. Marcus would go on to play professional basketball in Germany from 2010-12 before returning to his home state.
5. Monk Took a Lot of Criticism for Malik Committing to Kentucky
Given Marcus’ connections to the Arkansas program, which included a stint as a graduate assistant as he completed his MBA during the 2013-14 season, led to some fans expecting his younger brother Malik to follow in his footsteps and become a Razorback as well. However, Marcus insisted that he would not look to influence his brother with regards to Malik’s college choice. Marcus stated as such in an article written by Evin Demirel of MaxPreps.com in March 2014.
Marcus said he feels “no conflict of interest at all” being part of the basketball team and the brother of a highly sought recruit. When he first discussed the position with Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, he said, he told Anderson he was going to let Malik decide on a college on his own.
So far, Marcus added, he and Malik haven’t discussed recruiting.
“He knows I’m here if he needs any advice.”
Malik, who along wth his mother would move from Lepanto to Bentonville just before the start of his sophomore year of high school, would eventually pick Kentucky over Arkansas. And while most in the state expressed their disappointment with the decision in a mature manner, there were others who did not.
Monk spent time with the Arkansas Wings grassroots basketball program as its executive director, and he combined with former basketball teammate Nick Mason to form the Monk Promotional Management Group, LLC in 2014.