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Former UK star Monk completes pre-draft workouts, awaits future NBA destination

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By Keith Taylor
Special to NKyTribune

Malik Monk is finished with his workouts and will now play the waiting game until the NBA Draft, set for Thursday in Brooklyn, New York.

The Kentucky freshman guard worked out for the Philadelphia Sixers Thursday after conducting workouts for the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic. Monk, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year after averaging 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Wildcats last season. Monk also shot 40 percent from the 3-point line.

Former Kentucky standout Malik Monk finished his pre-draft workouts this week, ahead of the NBA Draft set for Thursday in Brooklyn, New York. Monk is expected to be a lottery pick in the draft (Keith Taylor Photo)

“I think I would fit great every where I worked out at,” Monk told reporters this week. “That’s why I picked the the workouts (I chose).”

Monk is expected to be a lottery pick in the draft and has been projected to be picked as high as third and as low as seventh by many draft analysts. Philadelphia has the third pick behind the Celtics and Lakers, respectively.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said Monk would be a good fit for the Sixers and understands why Philadelphia is pursuing the sharp-shooting guard.

“I think the interest in Malik is because he can play both 1 and 2 and he can score the ball,” Calipari said earlier this week. “So, if you play other players and playmakers, he’s done it here. With Malik, what people have talked to me about, the teams, is we didn’t realize he was as good in pick-and-roll as he is. … if I’m those Philadelphia players, I’d like to see Malik there.”

Calipari said Monk’s consistency and ability to score will carry him far at the next level and added his former guard is an “elite, elite, special talent, athlete.”

“How many guys jump that high on their jump shot and are consistent with it?” Calipari said. “If Philly got either one of those two they’d be in pretty good shape, especially with the guys they have in the organization already.”

Although Calipari only coached Monk for one season, he witnessed some big moments last year, including Monk’s 47-point outburst in a 103-100 win over eventual NCAA champion North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic last December in Las Vegas. Monk also made 95 3-pointers during the regular season and became the first freshman in school history to score 30 or more points in at least four games.

“When he gets in a zone and he just locks it down, you just kind of sit there and say, ‘Oh my goodness,’” Calipari said. “He also could be, and I believe in the NBA will start to become, a terrific defender and rebounder for his position, because there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be. He’s long enough, he’s athletic enough, he’s bouncy enough.”

Monk also met with Hall of Fame coach and Knicks chief executive Phil Jackson and worked out for the organization earlier this week. Monk tried his hand at the famed triangle offense, a Jackson trademark. Monk liked the flow of the offense and became comfortable with the offensive scheme that produced several NBA titles for Jackson while with the Chicago Bulls.

“(It’s) a lot of movement,” Monk said. “It’s movement off the ball (and) I move great off the ball. I think it’s great for me.”

In addition to Monk’s basketball skills, Calipari was impressed with Monk’s overall intelligence on the court last season and his ability to understand the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.

“Never once did I have to use a board to draw up stuff with him,” Calipari said. “I could just tell him, ‘Look, you’re coming off that screen, I want you to step out, but go back, don’t come out.’ He’d say OK and then he’d go do it. He was really a great basketball mind and pick up things quickly. He would be one of those guys for the Knicks that fans would pay to go see and say, ‘I gotta see what he’s gonna do today.’”

In less than a week, Monk will find out his future destination. Until then, he will just have two wait and see where he will begin his professional career.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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