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John Calipari reacts to Keion Brooks being cleared to play vs. Florida

“All Keion cares about is trying help this team win.”

Kentucky Wildcats v Lamar Cardinals Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Kentucky Wildcats forward Keion Brooks Jr. has been medically cleared to return to competition after missing the first nine games of the season with a left leg injury, the school announced Thursday.

The sophomore will be in uniform Saturday vs. the Florida Gators and available to play for the 3-6 Wildcats, who’ve won two straight and could be primed to make another run at an SEC title now that Brooks is back.

Although Brooks has been conditioning and participating with the team in non-contact drills, Thursday was his first full practice since the injury.

Afterward, head coach John Calipari released a statement about getting Brooks back on the court.

“I met with him today and it was a little bit emotional,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “We have all been patient with this but obviously we all wanted Keion out there with us, no one more so than him. Now he is.

“Here’s the kind of person and teammate Keion is: When he and I talked about how he would fit in with what we’ve been doing as a team, his comment was, ‘Coach, I really trust you. I’ll do whatever this team needs me to do.’ Pretty amazing stuff when you think about this is someone who came back as the leader of our team and the only guy who played minutes with us a season ago. All Keion cares about is trying help this team win.”

Brooks averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 31 games (six starts) as a freshman in 2019-20. He shot 47.2% from the field to go along with 13 blocks and 11 steals. He had five double-figure scoring games, including his final game of the season at Florida.

In a career-high 27 minutes, Brooks scored 10 points, seven of which came in the second half to help Kentucky rally from 17 down in Gainesville to beat the Gators 71-70.

The next edition of Kentucky vs. Florida will take place Saturday at 5 pm on ESPN. The Cats have won four straight games in the series and will look to win three straight in Gainesville for the first time since 2002-04.

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