We’re now three weeks into the 2020-21 college hoops season, and Keion Brooks Jr. has yet to suit up for the Cats.
Brooks is recovering from a calf injury he suffered at least two months ago (UK nor Brooks have said exactly when he suffered it). As long as there wasn’t a tear of any kind, this isn’t the kind of injury that tends to sideline athletes for multiple months.
And with John Calipari seemingly changing Brooks’ recovery timeline each week, it’s led to speculation that something else was up with the sophomore forward.
“In the beginning, we thought it would be sooner, a shorter recovery,” Brooks Sr. said Thursday night. “But as he tried to do a little more and a little more, you start listening to your body and understanding it’s just going to take some extra time. It was never trying to mislead anybody. We just didn’t think it would take this long. And if it was up to me, he’d probably be out there now. I’m one of those old-school dads — suck it up, son — but there’s a bigger picture you have to look at.”
While a calf injury, on the surface, isn’t a bad injury that typically takes months to recover from, what this type of injury can do is put other body parts in danger of suffering a more severe injury.
In Brooks’ case, a calf injury could make him more susceptible to suffering an Achilles injury. That’s one of the worst injuries an athlete can have, especially if it’s torn. The recovery for that can take well up to a year, so you can imagine Brooks and everyone around him will make sure that doesn’t happen.
In fact, Tucker pointed out a recent example of this in NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, who suffered a torn Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals as he was battling a calf injury.
When Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, he had been nursing a calf strain for a month. Some fans and media questioned his toughness and desire to play because the Warriors were chasing another championship and needed him. They trailed 3-1 in the series and, hey, it was just a calf injury, right?
Durant tried to give it a go but instead lost the entire next season. Warriors general manager Bob Myers wept in the postgame news conference and took blame for Durant’s hasty return. See, the connective tissue between the two muscles that make up what we know as the calf come together to form the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle. Trouble in the calf can be a predictor of problems in the Achilles.
So yeah, you can see why Brooks and everyone around him have opted to play it safe with this injury and ensure he doesn’t suffer something more serious that could not only cost him all of this season, but potentially parts, if not all of the 2021-22 season, whether that’s in college or the pros.