Even though he just wrapped up his sophomore season, five-star Malik Monk has already proven himself as one of 2016's elite talents. Now, he's shifting his game and preparing for the future.
A 6-foot-3 shooting guard at Bentonville (Ark.) High, Monk currently ranks No. 12 in the class of 2016. One of the best athletes in the country regardless of class, Monk has at times settled too much for jumpers.
Over the weekend at the Real Deal in the Rock, Monk was making a concerted effort to use his first step, ball handling and athleticism to get to the rim more and it really seemed to open up his game.
"You have to start from the inside first," Monk told Rivals.com. "That makes it easier and I've found that out. I can also set my teammates up by driving and then I can start outside and my teammates can set me up well for open shots."
Not only is Monk looking to get to the rim more, he is playing with much more physicality and has been packing on muscle thanks to hard work in the weight room.
"It's helped me out a lot," said Monk of his work in the weight room. "We work in the weight room four days a week at Bentonville and I feel like that is really starting to help me out a lot."
A natural scorer who can explode for huge numbers, Monk is also trying to diversify his game. At the Real Deal, there were stretches where he ran the point for his team the Arkansas Wings. He's hoping to grow some more, but if he doesn't then he knows that he'll need to be able to play a lead guard role.
"Hopefully I will grow a little more but if I don't I need to be able to play the point," said Monk. "That's what I'm trying to get on right now. I'm working on keeping the ball low and tight to my body."
Last summer, Monk and the Wings won the 16 and under division of Nike's Peach Jam. This summer, they are one of the early favorites in the Nike EYBL and Monk said that what they did last year won't matter this spring and summer.
On the school front, Monk mentioned nearby Arkansas, Connecticut and Florida as the programs that have been through to see him. Given that his older brother Marcus was a star football player for the Razorbacks and his proximity to the Arkansas campus, some may feel that the Hawgs will be tough to beat.
Monk said that he doesn't have any favorites and that he doesn't want schools to be scared of recruiting him.
"I'm real young right now," said Monk. "I'm not putting my focus on any school and I'm still open to any school."
Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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