The last time we saw Keion Brooks in a Kentucky uniform, the 6-foot-7 forward helped spark the Wildcats to an 18-point come-from-behind win at Florida in a game that ultimately closed out the 2019-20 season.
That was more than nine months ago - March 7, 2020 to be exact - as EJ Montgomery tipped in a Brooks miss at the buzzer to cap off the victory.
Fast forward to Saturday’s 75-63 loss to North Carolina, and Brooks was once again in the middle of the action, albeit in a different role, as a big brother “defending teammates” during a postgame Zoom interview with the media.
Due to a lingering calf injury, the Indiana native has yet to play a single minute this season for a team that’s now dropped to 1-5, the worst start since the 1926-27 season.
“Just keep believing in us. We still have a chance to do something special,” said Brooks. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. This stuff is hard, especially with what’s going on in the world. It’s tough on everybody.
“I would just say continue to stick with us. Day-by-day, we’re trying to figure it out. We’re doing everything we can to continuously get better. If you’re a real fan and a true Kentucky fan, stick with us, we will eventually turn this around.”
In addition to dropping its fifth straight game, emotions ran high on the Kentucky bench Saturday as freshman Cam’Ron Fletcher was visibly upset about his playing time (just over two minutes) and issued an apology to the fans via Twitter on Sunday.
Kentucky fans have also been puzzled as to why Dontaie Allen, the former sharp shooter and Mr. Basketball from Pendleton County, has not played more in a struggling offense.
Worst start for UK basketball I can find was the 1926-27 season when UK’s first All-American, Basil Hayden, coached just the one year and finished 3-13 after going 1-8 in his first 9 games. pic.twitter.com/n8bMIwesCp— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) December 20, 2020
For now, it seems the biggest issue is trust and “buy in” throughout the Joe Craft Center for an immature team in the midst of Camp Cal, typically a time that yields significant improvement between academic semesters.
“We’ve got to keep sticking with it,” said Brooks. “It’s a long season. We’ve got to continue to believe in our coaching staff, believe in one another. But I have to say losses suck, but quite frankly, the way we’re playing right now, we don’t deserve it. Once we start to completely buy in to what coach wants us to do and completely buy into one another, it’s going to be hard for us to win a game. We just continue to believe in each other, believe in the coaching staff, believe in the game plan they put forth, we’re going to get better. But until we fix all of that little stuff up, it’s going to be tough to win games because teams are good just like we are.”
Up next, Kentucky faces No. 23-ranked Louisville on December 26th at the Yum Center.