But it won't be long until the 2016-17 version of Kentucky Basketball is on display. While point guard De'Aaron Fox and forward Bam Adebayo were the highest-rated Cats in most major recruiting services, don't forget about Malik Monk.
The 6-4, 185-pound guard from Bentonville (AR) was at one time a consensus top-five recruit in 2016. While he did fall to the 10-12 range the final rankings, it was more because of Monk being part of one of the most loaded recruiting classes in recent memory, not anything that Monk did or failed to do.
One Wildcat who kept an eye on Monk last season was outgoing freshman forward Skal Labissierre. And it wasn't just that Skal wanted to watch a future Cat in action as much as he was watching his former AAU teammate continue his rise. The two played together on the Nike EYBL circuit with the Arkansas Wings, and Skal thinks his former teammate could end up being the best Wildcat next season.
"Malik Monk was one of my teammates, and I think he can be the best player on that team," Skal said Wednesday afternoon at NBA Draft Media Day. "He's a high-flyer, he can really shoot the basketball. He's athletic, he has hang-time in the air and he's very competitive. He's a winner. I think he might end up being the best player on that team."
In his senior season, Monk led the Bentonville Tigers to a 21-9 record and the Class 7A state championship game, averaging 28.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in the process.
For his efforts, Monk was named the USA TODAY Arkansas Player of the Year, was picked to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All-American game, and was named a Second Team Naismith Trophy All-American.
Monk scored a school-record 53 points in a December contest, and 40 of them came in the second half alone. He also scored a Nike EYBL single-game record 59 points in April of 2014. He's also been one of the best defensive guards in high school hoops, and is already projected to be a great defender as a college freshman.
In March, Monk took home the McDonald’s All-American 3-point championship. becoming UK's first recruit to do so since Kyle Wiltjer in 2011.
Yeah, he'll be a good one, maybe the best to come out of this class for UK.