Evin Demirel – Is Malik Monk the Greatest?


If you ask, the old Arkansan hoopheads will tell you.

They have never seen anything like him before. Bentonville junior Malik Monk has broken new ground by elevating off of it like no other player in Arkansas prep basketball history. Athletically, the 6’3” Lepanto native is as close to Michael Jordan as this state has ever produced. And in terms of shooting range and technical beauty, he evokes Ray Allen.

The nation’s top ranked shooting guard in the class of 2016 put up 27.6 points per game during 7A-West conference play this season, which is really good – but not record-breaking. Ronnie Brewer, for instance, scored more points his senior season in 2003.

This postseason, though, Monk is separating himself from the all-time pack. In leading Bentonville to Saturday’s title game against North Little Rock, he put up 28 points in a win against Springdale before napalming Van Buren with 42 points and a few assists for good measure, as these second half highlights from Monday’s game show:

At 35 points a game so far, Malik Monk may be on track for the greatest run of postseason scoring performances in the history of the state’s largest classification. But how exactly does he stack up against the biggest names of the recent past?

Let’s find out:

Corliss Williamson / Russellville

1991 state tournament (junior)

Russellville 87; LR Central 78 (scored 30 points)

Russellville 63; Watson Chapel 65 (18 points)

Williamson ended his junior year as a third-team Parade All-American. That season he chipped in 26 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. His best tournament of the season actually happened in December, at the King Cotton Classic, in which he averaged 33 points a game and sealed the title for Russellville by blocking Jason Kidd’s shot with two seconds left in the championship game.

1992 state tournament (senior)

Russellville 73; Jonesboro 57 (34 points)

Russellville 76; Pine Bluff 62 (27 points)

Russellville 61; Parkview 64 (28 points)

Big Nasty’s high school career ended after he missed a three pointer in front of more than 5,000 fans packed in his hometown’s Tucker Coliseum. He had averaged 29 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks a game in the regular season.

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Joe Johnson / LR Central

1999 state tournament (senior)

LR Central 87; Fort Smith Southside 39 (16 points)

LR Central 75; Sheridan 40 (13 points)

LR Central 90; LR McClellan 44 (17 points)

LR Central 97; NLR 52 (19 points)

It’s indicative of LR Central’s balance that Johnson, a seven-time NBA All-Star, did not once lead his team in scoring during its four postseason games. Before the title game, NLR coach Ron Ingram emphasized his foes did not wholly rely on Johnson: “All of them can shoot. One man doesn’t make a difference on that team.”

He then detailed to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette just how much of a juggernaut the Tigers’ offense with a healthy Johnson could be, joking the only way to stop Central was to “shoot them before they get off the bus.”

“It’s not legal, but it’s what we need to do. It’s not in our [game plan] right now.”

*Johnson’s ‘99 Central team ranks with ‘80 West Memphis, ‘92 Parkview and ‘13 North Little Rock as the best in state history

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Ronnie Brewer / Fayetteville

2002 state tournament (junior)

Fayetteville 62; Pine Bluff 49 (27 points)

Fayetteville 41; Parkview 56 (7 points)

Brewer was just as dominant in the regular conference season as Monk has been this year, averaging 24.5 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.5 steals and 2 blocks a game. But he ran into an buzz-killing buzzsaw in Parkview in the second round. “We wanted to shut ‘em all down …. everybody who knows Parkview, knows we play defense,” Patriots coach Al Flanigan told the Democrat-Gazette afterward. Brewer was 0 for 8 from the field.

2003 state tournament (senior)

Fayetteville 70; Lake Hamilton 52 (19 points)

Fayetteville 68; Pine Bluff 69 (25 points)

Brewer “might be a great player, but I like to think I’m one too,” said Brandon Walters, who limited Brewer to a single field goal in the second half. “I told Coach that our guards could concentrate on stopping their guards and not worry about Brewer. I wanted to handle Brewer myself.”

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KeVaughn Allen / North Little Rock

2013 state tournament (sophomore)

North Little Rock 82; Bryant 44 (16 points)

North Little Rock 86; West Memphis 69 (30 points)

North Little Rock 64; Fayetteville 52 (17 points)


2014 state tournament (junior)

North Little Rock 77; West Memphis 63 (19 points)

North Little Rock 77; Bentonville 64 (28 points)

North Little Rock 89; Springdale 81 (28 points)*

*championship forfeited after school self-reported a recruiting violation to the AAA.


2015 state tournament (senior)

North Little Rock 62; Springdale Har-Ber 53 (26 points)

North Little Rock 66; Fayetteville 65 (33 points)

North Little Rock; Bentonville (TBA)

North Little Rock decisively ousted Bentonville in the semifinals last year, but the 11 a.m. Saturday rematch in Hot Springs promises to be closer. Monk, for one, has hungered for this game for a full year, as he told me in the 2014 winter edition of Letterman Magazine:

“The paths of Monk and Allen, the state’s two best players, keep intertwining. In winter, they’re foes, but during summers they find themselves on the same team, as they were during at the Nike Global Challenge tournament in August. There, Allen often visited Monk’s dorm room and they talked a lot about that last Bentonville-North Little Rock game, Monk recalls. There was some good-natured trash talk about what would happen if the state’s two powers clashed again in the state tourney. For Malik, the answer’s easy: ‘We got to win. We have to. It’s a must win.’”

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

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For more, including a look at the best scoring performances of Arkansas’ old-school prep legends, visit Evin Demirel’s blog. He’ll Tweet a nugget or two, too.

Another Malik Monk Dunk Courtesy of John David Pittman

Another Malik Monk Dunk – Courtesy of John David Pittman


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