Malik Monk is the most athletic and electrifying of the UK freshmen. The 6-foot-5 guard from Arkansas has already wowed the Rupp Arena crowd a few times this season with his high wire act. His brother, Marcus, played college basketball and football at the University of Arkansas and played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears. His cousin, Rashad Madden, also played basketball at Arkansas.
You have so many family ties to Arkansas. What went into the decision to come to UK?
It really wasn’t anything to Arkansas and Kentucky. I just had to pick the school that was most comfortable to me. I think Kentucky was the best choice.
Was there a moment when you came to the realization that Kentucky was the pick?
Coach Cal telling the truth to my mom and just being honest about everything.
Your brother played for the Chicago Bears, so are you a Bears fan?
No, I don’t like the Bears. I like the Ravens. I used to cheer for Ray Lewis.
How close are you and your brother?
My brother is my best friend – my brother, of course. He’s like my dad sometimes. We are close, super close.
How old were you when he was playing?
He’s 12 years older than me. When I was in second and third grade, he was at Arkansas. Then he went to the Bears, so I remember.
So at that point, were you thinking that you would play at Arkansas someday?
Yeah, I was thinking that.
Is it surprising to you that you’re wearing all that blue now?
It kind of is, to see that I’m here.
What can UK expect from you this season?
They can expect just an efficient scorer and for me to just bring a lot of energy.
You know about the 2012 National Champs and the 38-1 season. Is there a sense among the freshmen that you want to prove that you’re the best class ever here?
Every team wants to prove that they’re the best and every team wants to win every game they play. We’ve just got to prepare and listen to Coach Cal.
Why do you wear No. 5?
In the summer of ninth grade, I moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, and my coaches got us into the FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] with the Bible and all that. And when I was younger, I used to watch Animal Planet. So the fifth day is when God made animals, and that’s why I like it. VT