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Kentucky's Monk declares for draft

Staff report

Kentucky's leading freshman scorer, Malik Monk, declared for the NBA Draft on Tuesday by thanking Big Blue Nation and publishing a letter.

"After taking some time with my family and reflecting on this season, I have decided to enter my name into the 2017 NBA Draft," Monk said in a news release from the University of Kentucky. "As a little kid, these are words that I could only dream of saying. For that I am very grateful and thank God. I would like to thank Coach Cal for helping me evolve my game and become a more complete basketball player. You pushed me all season to be my best and taught me the true meaning of team and sacrifice.

"KP (Kenny Payne), thank you for mentoring me on and off the court and helping me perfect my craft while guiding me through the entire process. I want to thank all of the coaches and support staff for investing time and energy in my future and helping me mature as a young man. Month by month I have grown and matured on and off the floor because of you guys.

"I want to thank my teammates. You guys made this the best year of my life, and you will always have a brother in me. I appreciate everyone that plays a part in this program from the administration, academic support, to the managers. It takes a village and the time you invested off the court made everything on the court possible.

"BBN, I cannot thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you showed me throughout the year. Although the season didn't end like we wanted it to, you gave me memories that will last a lifetime. We couldn't have done it without you. From the Bahamas to Vegas, you were right there. Through the ups and downs of the season, you were right there. I will forever be thankful for the support. You are truly the best fans in the world."

Coach John Calipari praised Monk's unique talent. Monk's season ended with 754 points, fourth highest in UK's history behind Dan Issel, Jodie Meeks and Jamal Mashburn. Monk was the second highest scoring freshman nationally.

"With Malik you're talking about a superior athlete with skills and an ability to score that make him truly unique. What I love about Malik is that, as the season went on, he learned how to help our team win by doing more than just score. He became an efficient player who I believe will make an immediate impact at the next level."

Monk averaged 19.8 points a game this season and sank a team-high 104 3-pointers. He joins De'Aaron Fox, who announced Monday he was entering the June 22 draft.

In past years, players wanting to leave for the NBA Draft have announced their decisions on the same day, sometimes the same moment in a press conference.

In his season with the Cats, Monk won several honors, including several All-SEC, All-American and All-Freshman teams and AP SEC Player of the Year.

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