LEXINGTON, Ky. – Following a historic scoring season that included more than a few record-breaking performances, freshman guard Malik Monk (pictured) announced Tuesday, April 4 that he plans to enter his name in the 2017 NBA Draft and will sign with an agent, effectively ending his career at UK.
The NBA Draft is June 22.
“After taking some time with my family and reflecting on this season, I have decided to enter my name into the 2017 NBA Draft,” Monk said. “As a little kid, these are words that I could only dream of saying. For that I am very grateful and thank God. I would like to thank Coach Cal for helping me evolve my game and become a more complete basketball player. You pushed me all season to be my best and taught me the true meaning of team and sacrifice. KP (Kenny Payne), thank you for mentoring me on and off the court and helping me perfect my craft while guiding me through the entire process. I want to thank all of the coaches and support staff for investing time and energy in my future and helping me mature as a young man. Month by month I have grown and matured on and off the floor because of you guys.
“I want to thank my teammates. You guys made this the best year of my life, and you will always have a brother in me. I appreciate everyone that plays a part in this program from the administration, academic support, to the managers. It takes a village and the time you invested off the court made everything on the court possible.
“BBN, I cannot thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you showed me throughout the year. Although the season didn’t end like we wanted it to, you gave me memories that will last a lifetime. We couldn’t have done it without you. From the Bahamas to Vegas, you were right there. Through the ups and downs of the season, you were right there. I will forever be thankful for the support. You are truly the best fans in the world.”
Monk, who dazzled college basketball fans this season with a number of historic individual games, is the second underclassman from the 2016-17 Wildcats to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft. Freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox announced his intentions on Monday. Players have until 11:59 p.m. ET on April 23 to submit their names for the 2017 NBA Draft.
“Malik is a special talent,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “With Malik you’re talking about a superior athlete with skills and an ability to score that make him truly unique. What I love about Malik is that, as the season went on, he learned how to help our team win by doing more than just score. He became an efficient player who I believe will make an immediate impact at the next level.”
Monk electrified crowds with his prolific scoring outbursts and high-flying violent dunks. He finished his freshman season averaging 19.8 points per game – second among all freshmen nationally – and reached double-figure scoring in all but two games.
With 14 points in the NCAA Tournament second-round game vs. Wichita State, he became UK’s all-time leading freshman scorer with 721 points, passing Jamal Murray’s output of 720 from a season ago. His record-breaking season ended with 754 points. That’s fourth all-time in UK’s history books, regardless of class, trailing only Dan Issel (948; 1970), Jodie Meeks (854; 2009) and Jamal Mashburn (767; 1992).
He produced 18 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December. Monk is the only freshman in program history with four 30-point games, and six times this season he scored at least 20 points in a half. In addition to scoring 37 points at home vs. Georgia and 30 in a half against Georgia, he hit the game-winning shot vs. North Carolina and the game-tying shot to force overtime in the win at home vs. the Bulldogs.
Monk made 104 3-pointers on the season, not far behind Jodie Meeks’ school record of 117.
Last week Monk was named to the NCAA consensus All-America Second Team after being named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Sporting News).
Among the major individual awards Monk has won this season:
· NCAA Consensus All-America Second Team
· SEC Player of the Year (AP)
· SEC Newcomer of the Year (AP)
· SEC Freshman of the Year (Coaches)
· All-SEC First Team (AP/Coaches)
· All-SEC Freshman Team (Coaches)
· AP All-America Second Team
· NABC All-America Second Team
· USBWA All-America Second Team
· Sporting News All-America Second Team
· Sporting News Freshman All-America Team
· USA Today All-America Second Team
· NBC Sports All-America Second Team
· Wooden Award All-American
· USBWA District IV Player of the Year
· USBWA All-District IV Team
· Jerry West Award Finalist
· Wooden Award Finalist
· NABC All-District 21 Team
The NBA Draft Combine will take place May 9-14 in Chicago.
Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 28 NBA Draft picks over seven seasons, more than double any other school. Included in the 28 are 21 first-round selections, three No. 1 overall picks, 11 top-10 selections and 14 lottery picks.
Of the 18 players in the Calipari era who declared for the NBA Draft after one season at Kentucky heading into this season, all 18 were drafted in the first round.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught