Guest post: Intangibles make Malik Monk favorite player

Malik Monk (Chet White/UK Athletics Photo)

Malik Monk (Chet White/UK Athletics Photo)


I was asked after watching the first few games of the season who is my favorite freshmen on this year’s talented squad? I faltered a bit. All of them are talented. All are equally impressive. At that time, I was leaning heavily toward Wenyen Gabriel. I love his length, his hustle, and his huge upside. I asked if I could watch another game or two before I gave my answer. I am glad I did.

Like most of BBN, I have fallen in love with Malik Monk. Yes, he is long and an extremely athletic guard. Yes, he is amazing on the open court and finishing above the rim. Yes, he makes plays off the dribble and can play catch and shoot with the best of them. BUT, surprisingly, those are not the things that make him my favorite freshmen.

If I had listened to scouting reports by the “experts,” I would see a streaky shooter with a tendency to seek out the ball instead of distribute it and a player that would lack any focus on defense. Generally, I don’t listen to anyone except my own instincts. I have faith in Coach Cal to find players that will fit within a very successful system. In this case? He sure found a gem.

Against Arizona State, I witnessed a McDonald’s All-American and potential lottery pick dive on the floor for a loose ball. I watched him make one of the most athletic plays in my tenure as a Kentucky Basketball fan. I observed him smile and enjoy his teammates as they made their own plays.

What I love about Malik Monk is his hunger. His drive. His personality. His love for BBN and the team he wears across his chest. Those mean much more to me than all of the tangibles I mentioned above. It is the intangibles that lead me to pick him as my favorite freshmen this year.


  1. For me it’s Fox. I camp out every year for BBM tickets and see which players are comfortable in that environment(it’s how I pick my favorite freshman) and Fox was my pick. He played touch fb (quarterback only and they could not touch him) with these kids for over an hour and then stayed and took pictures with anyone who wanted one. If that was not enough he actually thanked me for being a fan and being there(1st time that has ever happened), I think that he and Monk both have the intangibles need for a great team as do most guys Cal recruits.

    1. Oh, I agree. It was hard to pick from Fox and Monk. Generally, I lean heavily on personality. I love Monk’s personality, but it was the hustle and drive that tipped the scale. I have several favorites from various teams. MKG, Ulis, Wall, Cameron Mills, KAT, and of course Patrick Sparks. Monk just reminds me of a more offensive minded MKG. I do love them all though…

  2. There are a bunch of great attitude players on this team. I saw Willis make one of the most spectacular saves I’ve ever seen recently. He could have given up on playing and enjoyed having a court side seat for all the games. He could have just went on to graduate without really caring if he accomplished anything in basketball. Instead he’s out there giving it 150%. He might make mistakes still but it isn’t for a lack of trying. But seriously how many saves have we seen where the guy is sliding backwards down the court with his feet 4 feet in the air? That’s a guy who wants to win.

    But Monk is something very special. He has boatloads of talent. He squares up his shot very, very quickly and he can drive with the best of them. Then there’s the fact he can hang in the air for about 5 minutes while lesser humans all fall back to earth leaving him alone to do whatever he wants up there. He sometimes tries to do a little too much but that’s a freshman thing that will pass. He is one very talented player. So is Fox. So are Bam and Gabriel and several more. But Monk I think is a cut above the rest. Maybe Fox is in his league but then I think about how Gabriel has such raw talent and how Bam is a man among boys.

    This team is very special. I expect a great run from them.

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