Anybody who looked into Bentonville's boys basketball team's season statistics could see the obvious improvements Malik Monk made in his game this season.
Tigers coach Jason McMahan, however, witnessed how his junior guard's game became even better in ways that most people couldn't see, and he is this year's All-NWADG Boys Player of the Year.
"His leadership and being a teammate is where he improved the most," McMahan said. "He took great delight in anyone playing good and gave encouragement to them. He also stepped up his competitiveness and lead the team from that area. He also became a much more efficient player."
The 6-foot-4 Monk averaged 26.9 points per game this season, an increase of more than 4 points from a year ago. He broke the school's single-game scoring record twice -- hitting 45 points in the season opener against St. Louis Chaminade, then 50 against Chino Hills, Calif., in the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions -- and surpassed the 2,000-point mark in career scoring during a win over Springdale High in the Class 7A state tournament quarterfinals.
His shooting accuracy was better in all departments, but no place displayed more improvement than the free-throw line, where he hit 85.2 percent of his attempts (196 of 230) this year compared to 73.2 percent a season ago. His rebounding average went up more than two per game this year, and he doubled the number of blocked shots.
The best part of that improvement, according to McMahan, was that the coach never had to coax or persuade the player into doing any of it.
"That is the best part of Malik," McMahan said. "He wants to get better. His basketball aptitude makes his improvement rate happen very fast. His improvement comes from a lot of people helping him."
-- Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
Sports on 03/29/2015