Forget about Migos and Black Portland, the hottest mixtape of 2014 belongs to Arkansas native Malik Monk. The 6'3 guard in the class of 2016 has been tearing up the grassroots circuit all year, first scoring 59 points in an EYBL game earlier this spring and then capping his run in the Nike league by dropping 40 points in a two-point victory over Team Penny (Tenn.) at Peach Jam this past weekend.
Monk may be a bit overshadowed by the incredible talent at the top of the class of 2016, but he's the most exciting player in the country even if he isn't the best long-term NBA prospect. With nuclear athleticism and the ability to rise and fire from past the professional three-point line, Monk has a game perfect for the up-and-down style of AAU ball.
This is the type of player who seems specifically engineered to be at the center of a ridiculous mixtape. On Monday, Hoopmixtape came through with a great compilation of Monk's performances over the last seven months:
Monk doesn't have Harry Giles' size or passing ability. He doesn't have Josh Jackson's all-around game or pro-ready body. He lacks Jayson Tatum's gifted court vision and Thon Maker's absurd combination of height and shooting touch. But while Monk may not be among the first few picks in the 2017 NBA Draft (yes, we realize how silly this sentence sounds), he does seem capable of destroying college basketball two years from now.
College hoops is a guard's game, and Monk has the skill set to dominate. Diminutive guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright just carried UConn to an improbable run in the NCAA Tournament because of their quickness and deep shooting range. Monk combines that with elite athleticism that should set him up to be a force once he enters college.
It's hard to think of a worthy player comparison for Monk. Ben Gordon with Russell Westbrook's athleticism? Monte Ellis with Nate Robinson's leaping ability? Monk is a scorer through and through, but at 6'3, he'll be undersized for a shooting guard in the NBA. The best comparison might be prime Steve Francis.
It's not like Monk is an unwilling passer: he averaged 3.8 assists per game in the EYBL. Passing is just so secondary for his game right now. He's a human highlight reel personified who seemingly gets buckets at will at the high school level. Monk finished fourth in the EYBL in scoring at 21.1 points per game.
Monk already had an offer from Kentucky, and picked one up from North Carolina on Monday after a big weekend at Peach Jam. He's currently ranked No. 4 in ESPN's class of 2016 rankings, and could move up if Maker and Jackson decide to reclassify to 2015.
There's always commotion over rankings and future pro potential with elite high school basketball players, but Monk is a good example of why it's all so meaningless at this point. Just press play on the mixtape, sit back and enjoy the show. The rest will take care of itself.