Malik Monk eager to return to basketball after missing summer leagues with injury

Malik Monk signs autographs for fans at Fayette Mall

Malik Monk signs autographs for University of Kentucky fans at Allsports in Fayette Mall.
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Malik Monk signs autographs for University of Kentucky fans at Allsports in Fayette Mall.

Former University of Kentucky star Malik Monk, who missed the NBA’s summer leagues because of an ankle injury, does not know what he missed.

“I didn’t watch,” Monk said Saturday before an autograph session here. “If I’m not playing, I can’t watch. I was mad the whole time. So, yeah, I was super mad.”

Well, not all that mad, Monk said a few minutes later.

“They told me to sit out,” he said of the advice he heard from the Hornets’ officials. “(Sitting out) was going to be good for me. So I just listened to them. I really didn’t get too down on myself.”

Monk injured an ankle when his foot came down on another player’s foot in a workout. He said he expects to be given the OK to participate in all basketball activities soon.

“What’s today? The 29th?” he said. “I start in August. So Aug. 1, I can start working out again.”

Monk was UK’s leading scorer last season. He averaged 19.8 points. Taken with the 11th pick of this year’s NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, he expects to be called upon to contribute as a point guard and a shooting guard.

“Both,” he said. “I can do both. I think they want me to do both. I think I can do it pretty good.”

When asked how much point guard he played at Kentucky last season, Monk said, “None. I didn’t need to.”

An ankle injury sidelined Malik Monk, causing him to miss the NBA summer leagues. He doesn't know what he missed because he didn't watch.

Malik Monk jokingly (?) spoke of beating Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one.

Early projections have Monk as a reserve guard playing alongside Michael Carter-Williams. In that scenario, the starters would be Kemba Walker and Nic Batum. The thinking is that Monk, at 6-foot-3, and Walker, who is 6-1, would be too small a backcourt tandem.

Monk likened playing alongside Walker to his backcourt mate at Kentucky, De’Aaron Fox.

“I think it’ll be the same as Fox,” he said of playing with Walker. “Kemba does everything just like Fox. So I think it’ll be a great turnout for me.”

Monk said he was only vaguely familiar with his new home city. Of the initial five-day stay in Charlotte, he said, “I was in the hotel the whole time.”

He said he worked out with another former UK player on the Hornets, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. “We talked a lot,” he said, but declined to go into specifics.

Monk angered Arkansas fans by leaving his home state to play for Kentucky. When asked about being recently labeled the most hated player in Arkansas, Monk said, “I’m No. 1. A lot of publicity.”

Then he added, “Nah, I’m just playing. It doesn’t bother me. I’m playing for my family and me. I’m not worried about what nobody else says. If I’m the most hated, that’s good. I’m doing something right.”

Camden Shelton, 8, gets autograph from former University of Kentucky star Malik Monk.

The autograph session drew a crowd estimated at 140. For $30, fans could get an 8x10 photograph of Monk for the player to sign, plus pose for a picture with Monk. For $35, it was a 12x18 photograph of Monk, plus the pose with him.

A fan could also bring a ball or personal item for Monk to sign. That also cost $30. A purchase of four autographs got the fan a fifth signing for free.

Stephen Horn with Athlete Essentials, a Lexington-based company that set up the autograph session, said there were 60 signatures sold in the Simpsonville session, which was Monk’s third this month. He also signed in 15 sessions in April.

Charlie Shelton, 31, an electrician from Pleasureville, was first in line. He said he arrived at 7:30 a.m. for the session scheduled to start at noon.

“I figured they’d be a huge crowd,” Shelton said. “Actually, it looked like a desert.”

By 11:30 a.m., there were about 40 people in line.

Shelton wanted to save a good spot in line for his son, Camden, 8, who arrived with his grandmother at about 11:30.

Jimmy Wynn, 13, said he was wearing Louisville shirt Saturday because his girlfriend is Cardinals fan, but he stuffed the T-shirt in a bag his mother was carrying before he met former Kentucky star Malik Monk. Jerry Tipton jtipton@herald-leader.com

As the line moved along, Jimmy Wynn arrived at the table where Horn sold tickets for autographs. Wynn, 13, and his mother came from Corydon, Ind. Seeing Wynn was wearing a Louisville T-shirt, Horn jokingly said the T-shirt would have to be taken off.

Wynn immediately obeyed, stuffing the T-shirt in a bag his mother was carrying.

“I got it because of my girlfriend,” Wynn said of the U of L shirt. Yes, he said with a shake of his head, his girlfriend was a Louisville fan.

As if to clear up any confusion about his rooting interest, Wynn bought a UK cap before leaving the sporting goods store that served as the site for the autograph session.

Jerry Tipton: 859-231-3227, @JerryTipton

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