LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dominique Hawkins has faced a slew of crafty guards in his four years at Kentucky, but he said none were harder to defend than Malik Monk.
The freshman guard has been Kentucky’s go-to option from deep, but he finds other ways to score as well.
“I’ve never guarded anybody like him before being here four years,” Hawkins said Monday. “He can one-dribble pull-up off a screen and just shoot it. He can put me in the post and score or take me off the dribble. He just scores in different ways.”
Monk’s college career is 15 games old while Hawkins, considered the Cats’ best perimeter defender, is halfway through his fourth season.
“It’s impressive for a freshman to come in and do that against me, a senior,” Hawkins said with a smile. “I’ve seen him do it to a lot of other guys we’ve played as well.”
Monk is shooting 51 percent from the field and his 41.5 percent mark behind the arc is second best on the team behind 3-point specialist Mychal Mulder. But Monk’s percentages come on a much higher volume of shots.
Monk has attempted 44 more shots than anyone else on the team — he has 233 attempts to fellow freshman De’Aaron Fox’s 189. But coach John Calipari said Monk is improving on his efficiency. Mulder, Monk’s primary defender in practice, is noticing the same.
“He’s so much more disciplined,” Mulder said Monday. “He understands what a good shot is, what a bad shot is a lot more than when he came in. He plays to his strengths.”
Monk is 14th in the nation in scoring heading into Kentucky’s matchup Tuesday at Vanderbilt (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). But of the top-15 scorers in college basketball, only two are shooting better than 50 percent from the field — Monk and South Dakota State’s Mike Daum.
Hawkins and Mulder have seen Monk’s efficiency in practice.
“Whenever he takes a one-dribble pull up I don’t really gotta look anymore,” Mulder said. “I assume that’s going down.”