Following a pair of games where he looked as if he was beginning to make good strides, Keion Brooks Jr. struggled at Texas Tech on Saturday. In just seven minutes of play, he didn’t take a shot or record any other stat besides a single turnover as soon as he checked in off the bench.
Brooks looked uncharacteristically inactive after what we’d seen from him against Arkansas and Georgia, and there’s now an explanation as to why.
During John Calipari’s call-in show on Monday, he said Keion missed practice on Monday because of an illness and that he suspected he was sick during Saturday’s game.
Cal: Keion Brooks missed practice Monday because of illness. Cal said he suspects Brooks was ill at Texas Tech— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) January 27, 2020
Then during media availability on Tuesday, assistant coach Joel Justus confirmed that Brooks was sick on Saturday.
Did you think @KeionB_12 was not quite himself at Texas Tech? You were right. Today coach Joel Justus said he was sick— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) January 28, 2020
Keion looked really good in Kentucky’s last two wins before heading to Lubbock and, in the team’s first game without Kahlil Whitney, it seemed as if it was the perfect opportunity for him to step up off the bench and cement his role.
In the games against the Razorbacks and Bulldogs, Brooks averaged 9 points on 64% shooting to go with 6 rebounds in 16 minutes of action off the bench. He was really starting to show the versatility everyone had praised him for when he came into the program and, because of that, Keion’s struggles really stuck out on Saturday.
We have a genuine reason as to why now and, hopefully, Brooks can get back healthy and pick up where he left off. With a new lack of depth for the Wildcats following Whitney’s departure, Kentucky will need Brooks back before they resume SEC play against Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.
Speaking of depth issues, that could be aided if freshman Dontaie Allen is able to play at some point this season. However, Allen is still working his way back from a torn ACL and broken collarbone, though it’s been mostly swelling in that surgically-repaired knee that’s kept him out of action this season.
Allen has been unable to consistently practice while managing the swelling, which has left many wondering if he’ll even play this year or simply redshirt.
During his Monday call-in show, Calipari did not sound hopeful of the freshman playing anytime soon.
“Not at this point,” Calipari said. “I don’t think he’s ready to get in there and be on that court.”
Justus had a slightly more encouraging update on Allen but didn’t give any clues as to when/if he’ll play this season.
“He (Allen) is practicing. He’s getting better. I think Dontaie is working hard, and everyone is on their own path and their own timetable,” said Justus. “I think for us, there’s no rush on our part. I don’t think there’s any rush there.
“You want to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind and the right physical state of mind. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
At this point, we probably shouldn’t expect to see Allen in game action. Since he’s missed so much time already, he’ll be far behind the rest of the team for a while, so even if he’s healthy enough to play, he probably won’t be ready to give UK meaningful minutes until the season is almost over.
At that point, would it really be worth burning his redshirt?