Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Kentucky Backcourt of Fox, Monk Win MVPs at Jordan Classic
By JOSH NEWMANNEW YORK — Kentucky’s future backcourt put on a show in the Jordan Brand Classic and gave the basketball world a glimpse of what’s to come.
De’Aaron Fox went for 23 points, 5 rebounds and no turnovers en route to co-MVP honors as the East team beat the West team, 131-117, at Barclays Center.
His co-MVP was his future backcourt-mate in Big Blue Nation and his roommate here in the Big Apple. Malik Monk went for 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists for the West. The duo combined for 45 points in the game.
Carmelo Anthony presented both players with their MVP trophies on court, but he wasn’t even the biggest star the guards met on Friday. That would be His Airness, who met with the players privately before the game.
“I was shocked, couldn’t even speak really,” the 6-foot-4 Monk said of meeting Michael Jordan, whom the game is named after. “It was a dream come true, for real. He didn’t really speak on basketball, we were just asking him a bunch of questions.”
“That was pretty cool,” the 6-4 Fox said. I don’t want to down Melo, but we met Mike before the game. We got to ask him questions, he gave us little tidbits of what he really went through when he played basketball.
“Somebody asked what was the best piece of advice some one gave him. He just said to cease the day, take care of the moment, don’t think about the future or the past. Just think about what’s in front of you.”
Kentucky had four guys in the game, including forwards Bam Adebayo and Wenyen Gabriel. The 6-10 Adebayo — who has impressed NBA scouts as well as his teammates this week — went for 15 points and 5 rebounds in the win.
The 6-10 Gabriel had 4 points and 3 rebounds in the loss.
“[The guards] are going to always have the ball in their hands,” Adebayo said of Fox and Monk. “I don’t mind, it’s an All-Star Game, they’re going to have their days. They just happened to hit a lot of shots.’
Adebayo is looking forward to next season in Lexington.
“Just a fun time, we just all going to have fun,” he said. “Just stick together. We’re like brothers. We go in there as brothers, we’re going to leave out as brothers, not matter what happens.”
Gabriel is also excited about the future Kentucky backcourt.
“I always knew they were capable of that, that’s nothing to me,” he said. “Seeing that in person was nice. I’m just excited about how I learned about them as people this week. I already knew they could play.”
He added: “That’s the most important part about this, building relationships, camaraderie, so we can build off that once we get to campus June 9.”
For the East, Washington-bound guard Markelle Fultz added 19 points, Duke-bound forward Jayson Tatum had 18 points and 8 rebounds and Bruce Brown (Miami) and V.J. King (Louisville) scored 15 points apiece. For the West, Michigan State-bound forward Miles Bridges scored 17 points, as did St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds. Texas-bound guard Andrew Jones added 15 points and future Spartan Cassius Winston had 13 points and 7 assists.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.