BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox spent much of Friday’s Jordan Brand Classic game smiling, exchanging some friendly banter. Throughout the night, the guards often found themselves matched up — Monk representing the West squad in a white jersey, Fox in a black jersey for the East.
But next year, both will wear Kentucky blue.
And both Fox and Monk gave Kentucky coach John Calipari reason to feel optimistic about his club’s future backcourt play, as each captured MVP honors for his respective squad. Fox scored a game-high 23 en route to the East’s 131-117 victory, while Monk tallied 22 in defeat for the West.
As the game progressed, both guards recognized that MVP honors were within their grasp.
“It was exciting,” Fox said. “(Monk) came out pretty hot, and I got some points. And we were telling each other, ‘Let’s both try to get (the MVP award).’ And we both did it.”
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“With both of us winning MVP for both teams, it shows we’re working hard,” Monk added.
Fox, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA first teamer from Cypress Lakes (Katy, Texas), also grabbed five rebounds in 25 minutes. The 6-3 guard was motivated by the prospect of playing in an NBA arena in front of an often boisterous Brooklyn crowd.
“We’ve got fans like that down in Texas, but it’s more in football stadiums,” Fox said jokingly. “To perform in front of a crowd like this was amazing.”
Monk, a second team ALL-USA selection from Bentonville (Ark.), pulled down five boards, and had three steals in his 24 minutes. He said that he tried to use the week of practice to establish chemistry with Fox before they arrive in Lexington this fall.
“We’re just trying to get closer,” Monk said. “And just trying to stay there, so we can build a relationship.”
Having already squared off in the McDonald’s All-America game, the duo has grown quite familiar with each other as they’ve made their way through the all-star circuit. Monk said that he’s gotten used to guarding his soon-to-be teammate.
“We’re going to have to compete in practice like we do out there,” Monk said.
Monk and Fox were roommates this week in New York leading up to Friday’s game, and they appear to have forged a bond.
“It just makes it a lot easier to play with each other when you actually like each other,” Fox said.
Monk and Fox will also be joined in Lexington by forwards Bam Adebayo and Wenyen Gabriel. Adebayo, who added 15 points for the East, joined in some friendly banter with his fellow future Wildcats.
“We’re all going to talk trash with each other, a little bickering back-and-forth,” Adebayo said. “But it was fun.”
There’s certain to be some more good-natured ribbing among the quartet in Lexington this fall. More exciting to Monk, though, was their potential to rack up some wins.
“It feels like we’re going to be crazy next year,” Monk said. “With Bam too, and Wenyen. I’m just looking forward to it.”