Malik Monk

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Kentucky lands five-star guard Malik Monk

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Less than 24 hours after beating No. 5 Duke at the Champions Classic in Chicago, the Kentucky basketball program received some very good news on the recruiting front.

Five-star guard Ahmad Monk announced that he’ll play his college basketball under the tutelage of John Calipari, picking the Wildcats over Arkansas. Monk is an Arkansas native, currently attending Bentonville HS and having played for the Arkansas Wings grassroots program, and he was seen as a program-altering recruit for Mike Anderson.

But in the end, the opportunity to play at Kentucky and contend for a national title won out. Kansas and Oregon were also in contention for Monk’s commitment, but many saw this as a two-horse race between the SEC programs.

The 6-foot-4 Monk joins fellow guard and close friend De’Aaron Fox and forwards Sacha Killeya-Jones, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo in Kentucky’s 2016 class. One could also add Tai Wynyard to this class, as he’ll redshirt this season after he joins the Kentucky program in December. Monk is one of the best athletes in the 2016 class, and his ability to play either on or off the ball should mesh well with the talents of Fox.

Of course when it comes to Kentucky the returnees part of the equation is a fluid situation, with Tyler Ulis (sophomore), Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray and Charles Matthews (freshmen) all having eligibility remaining beyond the current season. Who stays and who heads to the NBA will impact the way in which Calipari crafts his strategy for the 2016-17 season, but given Kentucky’s use of the dribble drive motion system there’s certainly room for multiple ball-handlers on the floor at the same time.

Monk is ranked sixth in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com.

Five-star guard Malik Monk cuts his list to six, sets four official vists

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Five-star 2016 recruit Malik Monk cut his list of schools to just six on Tuesday night.

Monk’s brother, Marcus, told Evan Daniels of Scout.com that the 6-foot-4 shooting guard is down to Arkansas, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon. Monk has also set four of his five official visits. He travles to Eugene, Oregon on Sept. 18. He will later be at Kansas for Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 9, followed by a trip to Lexington for Big Blue Madness the next weekend. Monk ends the month with a trip in-state to Arkansas.

Monk cut the likes of Baylor, Florida, Indiana, Iowa State and Memphis from contention. He is listed as the sixth-best player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.

This summer, Monk averaged 25.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the Arkansas Wings in the Nike EYBL. In July, he led USA South to the Nike Global Challenge title, earning MVP honors.

Malik Monk’s highlights from Nike Global Challenge (VIDEO)

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Five weeks ago, Malik Monk led the high-scoring USA South to the Nike Global Challenge title at Whitney Young High School in Chicago.

The five-star shooting guard averaged 29.0 points and 7.2 board per game during the four-game showcase, including a 22-point, 13-rebound effort in a championship win over USA West. Monk earned MVP honors for his performance.

Monk, rated No. 6 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, is expected to cut his list of offers soon.

Four players stay atop the latest Rivals 2016 rankings

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The first of three live periods begins on July 8 at 5 p.m.

In preparation for the July live period, Rivals released an updated version of the Class of 2016 rankings. However, there was no movement through the top-4. Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep), Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian), Jayson Tatum (Chaminade High) and Dennis Smith (Trinity Christian) remain as the top-4 prospects, in that order.

If you’ve watched Jackson, Giles and Tatum play in the FIBA U19 World Championships, or what Smith did to his fellow participants at Steph Curry’s SC30 Select Camp in the Bay Area this week, it’s easy to see why they retained their respective positions in the Class of 2016.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball, the only player in the top-10 to give his verbal commitment at this point, checks in at No. 5 while Malik Monk, Edrice Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox stay in the bottom half of the top-10. After shining at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Lone Peak High (Utah) point guard Frank Jackson checks in at No. 10, jumping 21 spots.

The full, updated list can be seen here.

Three players withdraw from United States U19 training camp

Diamond Stone, Joey Gorgen

Saturday marked the first day of training camp for the United States U19 team, which is being led by Arizona head coach Sean Miller and assistants Ed Cooley (Providence) and Archie Miller (Dayton), with a list of 24 players needing to be pared down to 12 in advance of the FIBA U19 World Championships. Saturday it was learned that three candidates will not be participating in the camp, one of whom is reportedly on his college campus already.

Diamond Stone, one of the top incoming freshmen, withdrew from the camp as did 2016 prospects Tyus Battle (Michigan commit) and Malik Monk according to the Arizona Daily Star. Per the report, a USA Basketball spokesman cited health and family reasons for the players’ decisions to withdraw.

As for Stone, InsideMDSports.com reported Saturday that he’s already on the College Park campus.

Although there’s been no official confirmation, a source said it’s likely Stone is at Maryland to stay. It appears to be a late change of plans, as Maryland coach Mark Turgeon spoke about Stone’s delayed arrival Thursday at an athletic department tour stop in Baltimore.

“[USA basketball] is good for his development … He gets to play against top competition; it seasons him [but] I don’t think anything will make Diamond nervous,” Turgeon said. “Personally, I’d rather have him around. I’d rather have him in the weight room with Kyle and lifting with the guys and practicing with me, but you can’t get hold kids back. If that’s the best thing for him, then that’s what they should be doing.”

The World Championships run from June 27 to July 5 and will be played in Heraklion, Crete. According to USA Basketball, the list of 15 finalists is expected to be revealed June 15 (Monday), with that group being pared down to 12 shortly thereafter. The training camp runs through the 26th of the month.

Coaches Donnie Bostwick (Southwest Assemblies of God), Kerry Keating (Santa Clara) and LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central) are serving as court coaches during the training camp.

Nike EYBL Day 2: Malik Monk gets busy; Harry Giles has a quiet outing; Wendell Carter steps up

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LEXINGTON — Five-star guard Malik Monk showed why he’s one of the elite prospects in America with a dominating performance on Saturday against All Ohio Red.

Once the 6-foot-3 Arkansas Wings guard made his first three 3-pointers of the game — all from the left wing — in the first 80 seconds of the game, the packed court at the Kentucky Basketball Academy began buzzing. Monk, the No. 7 overall prospect in Rivals‘ Class of 2016 rankings, finished with 39 points, five assists and four rebounds as he went 11-for-17 from the field and 6-for-8 from 3-point range.

“I did what I had to do,” Monk said after the game. “My teammates, they set me up a lot. I just executed and hit open shots.”

Monk has been known to deliver big performances before and Saturday’s performance was certainly no different. While the ability to score from all over the floor has always been there for the electric guard, he also showed that he was a capable passer with five assists on the afternoon. Monk certainly took some heat-check shots on Saturday, but he also picked his spots and didn’t try to force that much.

With an electric first step and range out to the NBA line, Monk is as tough to cover as anyone in the Class of 2016 when he gets rolling.

Harry Giles needs to be assertive

There is no question that five-star forward Harry Giles is a premier talent and one of the best prospects in the class, but the North Carolina native didn’t show much consistency in a loss on Saturday to the Georgia Stars.

Playing against the Stars was an intriguing measuring stick for the No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2016 because Giles was going against multiple five-star big men in 2016 center Udoka Azuibuke and fast-rising 2017 big man Wendell Carter.

Giles showed flashes of greatness by going for a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but he wasn’t aggressive when his team needed him to come through in tight spots. Part of that blame certainly goes on the CP3 guards, who didn’t do a great job of giving Giles good touches to work out of. But Giles also has to command the ball and draw in the defense in those spots and he was fourth on the team in field-goal attempts in the Saturday loss.

Showing ridiculous burst as a rebounder, and some of his tremendous passing ability for a front-court player, Giles didn’t play poorly, but going against elite competition, it certainly wasn’t his best effort.

Wendell Carter continues to break out

One Class of 2017 player who is receiving a ton of chatter among college coaches and national media is the aforementioned Wendell Carter. The 6-foot-10 big man is apart of a three-headed monster of talented big men on the Georgia Stars, and on Saturday, he took center stage with an efficient 16 points and 13 rebounds on 5-for-7 shooting.

The No. 8 overall player in the 2017 class, according to Rivals, Carter was looking forward to facing an opponent of Giles’ caliber and took the matchup very seriously.

“Of course Harry Giles is a phenomenal player and he’s one of the best players in his class, but when I get a chance to go against people of that caliber, I take it as an honor,” Carter said. “I can learn from him while I’m playing. I just play like my life is on the line.”

Basketball, of course, is just a game and not a life-or-death matter, but Carter’s sense of urgency on both ends of the floor in Saturday’s win over CP3 was impressive. Carter hit the glass on both ends, used his size and physicality to create buckets on the interior and even got on the floor for a loose ball.

While it’s only one game, Saturday’s outing for Carter signifies that he’s starting to enter the discussion of the nation’s elite big men, regardless of class.