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.