By Sam Perley, hornets.com | Friday, June 23, 2:18 p.m.
The two newest additions to the Hornets organization arrived in Charlotte bright and early on Friday to get their first look at where they’ll begin their professional basketball careers. Guard Malik Monk, a freshman from Kentucky who was taken with the 11th overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, and forward Dwayne Bacon, a sophomore selected 40th overall from Florida State, took in the sights and sounds of Spectrum Center in what has been a crazy 24 hours for both.
“I still don’t believe it right now, it has not hit me yet, probably, I hope it hits me tomorrow,” said Monk, who ranked second in the nation in scoring amongst freshmen last season at 19.8 points per game. “Maybe I can wake up tomorrow, but it’s been crazy, I’m just thankful to be here and happy I can enjoy this with my family.”
“I’m really excited. It’s been a long process, just working out, going from team to team and it’s finally, you know, it’s finally, just happy to get a home you can get situated in,” added Bacon, who is coming off an All-ACC season with the Seminoles.
It’s been a whirlwind journey over the last day or so beginning with early flights for both players out of New York City after attending the NBA Draft last night. Upon arriving in Charlotte, each player enjoyed a much-needed breakfast before meeting with Hornets General Manager Rich Cho, Assistant General Manager Chad Buchanan and Head Coach Steve Clifford.
From there, the soon-to-be Hornets toured their new locker room, did sit-down interviews, signed some autographs for local fans, ate lunch and then made their first appearances in front of the Charlotte media alongside Rich Cho.
Steve Clifford also spoke afterwards about what he expects each player to bring to a Hornets team that has emphasized adding depth this summer.
“[Monk] has a skill level that is, to me, one of the [best] of the guys that I saw. I would say he’s one of the three guys to have exceptional skill level. The ability to create space off the catch and off the dribble to get his own shot, which is very difficult to do. Plus, he can really play without the ball. He’s a dynamic scorer and he’s also very athletic,” said Clifford.
He added, “Dwayne’s very athletic. I think he’s very competitive. He has good physical qualities to his game. I think he’ll be big enough and strong enough to cover both the [shooting guard and small forward positions].”
Monk and Bacon are expected to return to Charlotte on Monday to begin preparations for the 2017 NBA Summer League, which officially begins on Saturday, July 1 in Orlando, Florida. Monk and Bacon will join Charlotte incumbents Treveon Graham, Johnny O’Bryant and Briante Weber on a Hornets squad expected to be headed by assistant coach Stephen Silas.
The additions of Monk and Bacon cap off an overall busy week for the Hornets that also included the blockbuster acquisition of eight-time NBA All-Star center Dwight Howard on Tuesday night. With free agency just around the corner, expect the Hornets to keep their eyes and ears open as they continue to mold the roster in preparations for the 2017-18 NBA campaign.