Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Malik, like Marcus, looks like a real deal
Wings Elite's Malik Monk looks for an opening pass during their game against RL9 at the Real Deal tournament in Little Rock, April 18, 2014.
People were circling around looking for a parking place.
P.A.R.K. was packed, and it was still an hour before the Wings Elite would play.
Pool play was finishing up in Real Deal in the Rock and that always creates interest, but most people were wanting to get a glimpse of Malik Monk, the player who is finishing up his sophomore year at Bentonville.
By all accounts he is the type of player who will be recruited by every college that wants a player who can make an impact as a true freshman.
Monk has the good fortune to have a big brother, Marcus Monk, who knows about recruiting and college. Marcus Monk is the Arkansas Razorbacks’ all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 27, and he played most of his final season while recovering from a knee injury, which hurt him in the NFL Draft.
He also played some basketball for the Hogs, lettering in 2004-2005, and giving the team a big boost for eight games in 2008-2009, helping them win games against Oklahoma and Texas before surrendering his spot on the team after taking a loan from a lifelong friend to pay his rent.
If he had taken on the NCAA he probably would have won, but it was decided it would be easier on everyone if he just stepped aside, which he did without complaint.
Marcus Monk was always one of those guys who could have easily gone to college on an academic scholarship but loved sports. He is finishing work on his master’s degree.
In his senior year at East Poinsett County High School in Lepanto, he was named Mr. Basketball by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and two months later he was honored as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Male Athlete of the Year.
Now comes his little brother, a natural guard who has great quickness, vision and understanding of the game. He scores easily and gets assists even easier.
By Saturday morning’s 11:30 tip off at P.A.R.K. in Little Rock, there was standing room only to watch Malik Monk and the Wings Elite complete pool play in the tournament.
He’s not the only great player in the tournament: Several others will also be headliners in college and the NBA, but Monk is an Arkansan and everyone wants to seethe guy who can help turn the Razorbacks - if that’s where he decides to go - into a national powerhouse again.
Bill Ingram, founder of Real Deal, was looking a little tired Saturday - technically it was the tournament’s third day - and the light at the end of the tunnel was still a long way away.
As the tournament director, Ingram makes himself available to coaches, officials and anyone who might think they have a problem, which generally is about parking, but that’s a good problem to have.
In the weight room area above the playing courts, which is restricted, of course, stood Dr. Jimmy Tucker and his son.
From their vantage point they could see all three games at once, and as die-hard basketball fans it was a great spot to have, but one they have earned.
When Ingram was first thinking about starting a tournament, one of the people at the top of his list to be a sponsor was Tucker, and the doctor came on board immediately and has continued to be one of the main cogs in the wheels of Real Deal.
Others, including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, have also been there since the beginning as this tournament has grown to be one of the nation’s most successful. It has done so because of the way Ingram and his support staff operate it from the day they start accepting entries until the last game today.
Everyone is treated the same, with respect. There are no favorites, and that’s why teams sponsored by every shoe company will travel to central Arkansas. They know the games are going to called honestly and without bias by the officials and that someone has an answer to every question.
This afternoon a great tournament will end, most likely on a great note again.
Sports, Pages 23 on 04/20/2014