Keion Brooks is one of the biggest 2019 recruits that Kentucky is still in contention for.
The five-star forward has long been viewed as the Indiana Hoosiers’ to lose. After all, Brooks plays at nearby La Lumiere and ran with the Indy Heat on the AAU circuit. Ever since Archie Miller was hired, he’s been in heavy pursuit of Brooks. And for a while, it appeared to be paying off, as the Hoosiers have been favored to land him for over a year now.
However, the Hoosiers have been one of, if not the biggest disappointment in college basketball this season, losing 10 of 11 games. What’s made it even worse is they’ve done so with a top-five recruit in Romeo Langford, another Indiana native who stayed home to play for the Hoosiers.
Brooks was thought to be following the same path and take over as the lead man for the 2019-20 Hoosiers. But as bad as they’ve been, it’s allowed other teams to make a strong push for Brooks.
Even so, it was teams like the Michigan State Spartans and North Carolina Tar Heels who’ve gotten buzz for Brooks in recent weeks, as Kentucky appeared to be falling out of the race.
That changed in a big way this past weekend, as Brooks made a surprise visit to Lexington to watch Kentucky crush the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers.
Was the visit enough to push Kentucky back to being a legitimate threat for Brooks?
Well, Brooks was set to visit Michigan State on Sunday for their matchup with Ohio State, but he canceled that trip.
Over at 247 Sports, three predictions have been made for Kentucky landing Brooks. Speaking of, Brooks’ highest ranking is 13th overall by 247. According to the 247 class calculator, the addition of Brooks would push Kentucky’s 2019 class to No. 2 overall behind only Arizona (whose class may fall apart due to the FBI/NCAA investigations).
KSR is now reporting a decision could come next week. If that happens, you really have to like Kentucky’s chances since they would have gotten his final visit, albeit an unofficial trip.
Perhaps none of this should be a real surprised if you’ve listened to how highly Brooks thinks of Calipari and his program.
“The main thing I pulled away from that was just how great of a basketball mind that Coach Cal is,” Brooks said in an interview with Tipton Edits. “We were sitting at breakfast, and he was still trying to figure out stuff he was going to do in practice. … I was just fascinated by how smart he is.”
While Calipari’s message of ‘Kentucky isn’t for everyone’ seems to scare off some recruits, Brooks embraces that message.
“His message is Kentucky isn’t built for everybody, but he feels like I’m built for Kentucky. I have an edge about myself,” Brooks said. “You know, iron sharpens iron, so I just feel like — me going there — I could really achieve my dreams of going to the NBA, and possibly winning a national championship.”
Brooks is someone that Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey has been pushing hard to get to Lexington since last summer.
Asked Tyrese Maxey yesterday who he was recruiting the hardest on UK’s behalf. First name he mentioned: Keion Brooks, who’s draining jumpers this morning pic.twitter.com/Ivgc7ozYND— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) June 1, 2018
Another thing to consider here is this push by Kentucky comes right after Anthony Edwards spurned the Wildcats for Georgia. Edwards isn’t a wing, but had he picked Kentucky, it could have led to him, Tyrese Maxey and one of Ashton Hagans/Tyler Herro making up a three-guard lineup next season with Immanuel Quickley and Dontaie Allen coming off the bench.
I still think there’s a decent chance one of Herro/Hagans returns next season, so landing Edwards would have made it a lot harder for Brooks to get serious playing time on the wing. Now that Edwards is off the board, perhaps Kentucky is making a stronger push for Brooks.
There’s also the Jaden McDaniels recruitment, as he’s also someone Kentucky badly wants. But as the winds shift toward Washington for McDaniels, Kentucky may be ready to focus more on Brooks.
Whatever the reason may be, it appears to be paying off as we hit the home stretch of Brooks’ recruitment.
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