You know you’re probably a pretty good basketball player when you’re receiving national recognition before even stepping foot on a college court.
That’s the case for Bam Adebayo and Malik Monk, who are getting national recognition as some of the best freshmen in the country.
For Adebayo, Rivals listed him as one of 10 freshmen that need to have a big season, and told us why they think he’s capable of being the guy for Kentucky in the paint.
As usual, the Wildcats have recruited a ridiculously talented freshman class that should have several difference-makers. However, the biggest question mark for the 2016-17 team is who will step up as a low post threat. Adebayo isn’t known for being the most skilled post player, but he’s got NBA ready strength and athleticism and the tools to emerge as a double-double type guy. If he can be anywhere close to that, the Wildcats could be a tough out.
Adebayo’s size will be crucial for Kentucky, and if he can develop into that double-double guy that Rivals thinks he can be, he’ll demand the opposition’s attention down low.
As for Monk, 247Sports says it’s possible for him to be the Jamal Murray of this recruiting class.
Like Murray, who was the No. 10 overall player in the 247Sports Composite, Monk is a five-star prospect. In fact, as the No. 2 combo guard and the No. 11 player in the 2016 247Sports Composite, Monk comes in with an almost identical ranking. So can Monk be college basketball’s biggest impact freshman?
The two certainly have similar capabilities, which 247 Sports director of scouting Jerry Meyer points out when he says “He’s (Monk) a scorer with dynamic athleticism. The biggest question is how consistently he shoots the ball from deep.” Meyer said that Monk was a “streaky shooter” in high school from behind the 3-point line, and his biggest strength is slashing to the basket. Murray could also slash to the basket as well, drawing a good number of fouls inside in his freshman season, but he was more consistent from deep than Monk is.
There’s no doubt that Murray was the primary scorer last year, and Meyer said that’s what Monk is for Kentucky this year.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all; he’s the one guy on that roster where scoring is really his thing,” Meyer said. “They’ve got guys who can score, but it’s a complementary part of what they do. And while Malik can do other things well, the one thing he really does is put up points.”
Meyer also said that Monk could move out of the two guard spot in the NBA and play the point, comparing him to Russell Westbrook.
“I think he could slide down and play the one in the NBA and maybe develop into a Russell Westbrook type,” Meyer said. “I haven’t seen the fierce, determined competitiveness that you get with Westbrook, but Westbrook wasn’t viewed as a point guard really in college, and I could see [Monk] becoming a combo guy like that.”
Both Monk and Adebayo are expected to have huge seasons, and we’ll see if they can live up to the lofty expectations, and Westbrook comparisons. For now, we know for a fact that they’ll both play major roles in their time at Kentucky.