Malik Monk is one of the “you can’t miss” prospects that came into Thursday night’s (June 22) NBA Draft. Although it was believed he was a sure-fire top 10 pick, he ended up sliding to the Charlotte Hornets who fill their shooting guard hole with the 11th pick. The 19-year-old of Kentucky is the best shooter coming out of college and the North Carolina team just got a potential all-star level player.
An avid wearer of New Era hats, the Arkansas native is excited that the NBA will be teaming up with New Era as the official cap and recently debuted the On-Court Collection Draft Series for this year’s draft. Monk made his way to the 5th Ave. NBA store in NYC on Monday afternoon (June 19) for a meet-and-greet with fans as hundreds lined up along the side of the store.
VIBE caught up with the SEC Freshman of The Year award winner who was rocking a pair of red and white Nikes, blue jeans and a backward snap-back for a conversation about how he’s preparing for the league, New Era becoming the new partner of the NBA and some of his inspirations growing up.
VIBE: What has your draft week been like so far?
Malik Monk: I don’t even know yet. It really just started. I’m meeting people and doing a lot of interviews. I’ve been here (NYC) a couple times for basketball (AAU).
Tell me about your relationship with your brother, Marcus and how he’s been a mentor in your life.
He’s been with me my whole life. He’s 12 years older than me. I’ve been looking up to him since, trying to compete with him. When he was in 12th grade, I was in kindergarten so it was tough (laughs), but I’ve been watching him since day one.
What’s the best advice he’s given you over the years as someone who has played professional sports?
Whatever you dream you can accomplish.
What are your favorite kicks?
Probably the Jordan ones and fours. In high-school, that was all I used to wear.
Could you bring those back in the NBA?
I don’t think Jordan would let me do that. He doesn’t let people wear retros.
Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, LeBron of course you got to love LeBron. Lou Williams and C.J. McCollum.
How did your workout/dinner with the New York Knicks go? I’m a die-hard fan.
I saw that. It was good, everyone was there (Phil Jackson, Jeff Hornacek, Steve Mills) and it went well. They gave me great feedback. I learned a lot about the triangle. That’s all we did in the workout. They had me playing both guard positions.
Do you think you could play point guard at the next level?
How did Coach John Calipari sell you on the University of Kentucky?
He actually told me don’t come here if you don’t want to get pushed to another level and compete with the best. That’s really what sold me. I wanted the challenge.
Your signature game was versus North Carolina where you scored 47 points and 8 threes. Have you watched it since?
Of course (laughs). I watched it right after for sure when we got on the plane and went back to Kentucky. I’ll watch it every now and then.
In the Elite 8 they (UNC) guarded you differently. What did you learn from that going into the next level?
Man, super different. Way differently. I just have to know how to play against face guarding and switching defenders every time I’m down. Whatever I took from college I plan on transferring to the NBA.
Has shooting from the NBA 3-point line been different?
Nah, it’s about the same (laughs).
40% ain’t bad, have you reached out to anyone in the NBA or has anyone contacted you?
I worked out with Russell Westbrook recently out in Los Angeles. He talks to me. I talk to Devin Booker as well.
70 points, could you match that performance this season?
Nah (laughs). That’s crazy.
What do you think you need to improve the most on coming into the league? Defense?
Nah, I could play defense when I want to. I just have to bring it every play, and be consistent.
What would it mean for you to play in New York City in front of the fans of Madison Square Garden?
Everything is legendary here. It would be legendary for sure.
How do you feel about New Era becoming the official draft cap of the NBA?
I don’t even know my size yet, but we’ll figure that out today. I’ve been wearing these hats since I was growing up. Like you said, they’re the new face of the NBA. My hat, not matter who I get picked by, will be nice.