Five-star forward Keion Brooks has committed to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Brooks becomes the fourth UK commit for the class of 2019 and is currently rated as the 13th-best player in the country by 247 Sports. He was also considering the Indiana Hoosiers. Michigan State Spartans and North Carolina Tar Heels.
After visiting Lexington and witnessing a beatdown of the No. 1 team in America at the time in Tennessee, it became clear that Kentucky had made an impression on Brooks while he was on campus for his February 16th visit.
Visiting Rupp Arena on a night that saw the third largest crowd in history coupled with a huge win had to play a major role in sealing the deal with Brooks. He was scheduled to visit Michigan State following his trip to Lexington, but he chose to cancel instead, which made it pretty obvious that Kentucky was surging into the lead.
Dontaie Allen was sitting with Brooks during the Tennessee game which probably allowed an opportunity for the Kentucky kid to really emphasize how special it would be to play for UK.
There is no doubt that John Calipari and his staff made up a lot of ground over the past few weeks in the recruitment of the talented small forward, who for a long time was heavily believed to be a Big Ten lean.
Indiana had been reported as the leader for quite some time, but their abysmal play this season clearly had Brooks second guessing the idea at playing for Archie Miller. At one point, the Hoosiers lost 12 of 13 games and weren’t exactly showcasing the best version of Romeo Langford, who Brooks was essentially being recruited to replace.
It was going to be difficult for Miller to get any top recruits with how this season has been. In the end, it helped Kentucky land the Hooser state’s best player.
Brooks is a big-time scorer who can use his length to offensive rebound and finish at the rim on an elite level. At 6-9 with a long wingspan, he is able to get his shot up against just about anyone. He plays his high school basketball at the La Lumiere School in Indiana, where his team is one of the top ranked schools in the nation.
Brooks will join Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Donatie Allen as the current 2019 commits. The addition of Brooks will push Kentucky up to the No. 2 ranked class in 2019.
There are still some good options still available, but getting a commitment from Brooks now was a really important step for UK. Now they can begin strategizing the best way to finish out this class. Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels are both five-star players that Kentucky will go down to the wire with.
The wing options will be plentiful for Coach Calipari next season, because with the exception of Maxey, each new player is going to play the small forward position in some capacity.
Frontcourt depth continues to be a concern for next year, but there will be scoring options all over the court if Coach Cal chooses to play small, which he will have the pieces to do so. The possibility of returning Ashton Hagans to play with the group of scorers coming in is an exciting proposition.
There has been a lot of discussion in regards to Kentucky losing their recruiting prowess, but coming from behind to get a top-15 player like Brooks really puts talk like that to bed.
Yeah, sure, the dumpster fire that is Indiana Basketball probably helped UK’s cause quite a bit. But being able to bring a recruit into an environment like the Tennessee game, with several current NBA players back visiting, is a tool that no one can pull off quite like Kentucky.
Most people were not giving Coach Calipari much of a chance to sign Brooks after falling behind in the summer evaluation period. Here is a quote that Keion’s father, Brooks Sr, gave the Herald Leader this summer when asked how Kentucky fit in to his son’s recruitment.
“I think they’ve done a great job recruiting him,” Brooks Sr. said. “Coach Barbee and Coach Cal have really put emphasis on how much they really want him. And they’ve put in the time and work in to build the relationship with him. That’s good for me to understand that, because this guy gets just about anybody he wants in the country. And to be wanting my son, that means a lot.” Brooks Sr said.
It sounds like Brooks understood the “players first” mentality that comes along with being at Kentucky. He is going to be a great addition to an already impressive class.
There is no doubt that developing into an NBA player was a big reason why Brooks made the decision to commit to Kentucky. His raw talent and versatility make it difficult to project his future as a professional. But there is no better place than Lexington to learn exactly what needs to be done to become a draft pick.
How John Calipari would use/develop Keion Brooks would be as interesting as any other recruit he’s landed at UK. Brooks is incredibly versatile but tough to project.— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) February 17, 2019
- Briscoe (mostly cuz of Murray/Ulis)
The class of 2019 is now starting to take form and look very favorable for the University of Kentucky.
A big wing (6-9) who combines good size and length with very nice athleticism. Versatility is also a strength. It is possible he spends some time as a shooting guard, and also could slide all the way down and be a stretch power forward. Has ability to naturally get buckets in the mid-range. Needs to continue to get stronger and work on his perimeter jumper. Should develop into a first-round NBA selection.
Brooks is a versatile scoring forward with a lanky and elastic body type. He’s a true mismatch problem who is a threat to create his own shot and put points on the board from various spots on the floor. He’s probably most effective in the mid-range area, where he can shoot off both the catch and the dribble with a high release to score over top of opposing defenders. Brooks also has a better feel as a passer from the high post or short corner than he often gets credit for. He can put the ball on the floor and gets himself to the free-throw line by going right into contact. Brooks has soft hands and a good left which allows him to handle and finish equally well to either side. He’s also beginning to stretch the floor from behind the three-point line.
His frame hasn’t filled out yet and while he doesn’t shy away from contact, he’s not always able to play through it against the highest levels of competition. He has very skinny legs that are both knee-knocked and pigeon-toed causing a lack of fluidity at times, especially on the defensive end. Brooks also doesn’t measure out quite as big as advertised at 6-foot-5.5 without shoes with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. While he has versatility offensively he’s more of an undersized four than the big wing he fancies himself at this point and becomes inefficient when he gets too infatuated from the perimeter.
And of course, here are some highlights of the new Wildcat in action: