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Calipari Surprised by Monk Suspension

By Dr. John Huang

Like nearly every other University of Kentucky Basketball fan, I was sorely disappointed when hearing the news about Malik Monk. The former standout guard, who averaged 19.8 points per game for Kentucky in the 2016-17 season, was suspended without pay for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA anti-drug program.

The suspension began with Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks and will continue until Monk is determined to be in full compliance with the program.

Monk, currently in his third-year with the Charlotte Hornets, was averaging 10.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 21 minutes per game this season. However, he had been playing much better of late, averaging 18.2 points per game in the last seven games. Based on his $4 million dollar a year salary, Monk stands to lose $27,000 for every game he misses.

So talented, and therefore so sad

I didn’t get to know Malik very well during his time here, (What one-and-done player can you really get to know well in the five or so months that they’re actually on campus?) so I can’t say that I’m totally surprised. But I am deeply saddened.

Monk was so talented. The 47 points he dropped on North Carolina in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will remain as one of the top performances I’ve witnessed as a life-long UK fan. He was also a fun interview—often giving you that off-putting look, measuring his response, and then giving you one of his surprising non-scripted answers.

Kentucky Basketball is family. Once a Wildcat always a Wildcat, so I asked Coach John Calipari for his initial reaction upon hearing of Monk’s suspension.

“I haven’t talked to him, so I don’t know all the details,” he said cautiously. “A little bit surprised and feel bad for him.”

Calipari then went philosophical on us.

“But a lot of times things happen for a reason,” he continued. “And it makes you square yourself away. It makes you self-evaluate. And again, as I say this, I don’t know any of the particulars. And I have not talked to him. I let his family know we’re here for them if he needs us or if they need us in any way. They know that we’re here for them.”

That’s what families are for. That’s how La Familia rolls. Prayers up for Malik.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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