During this morning’s media session, Kentucky Wildcats basketball head coach John Calipari all but confirmed the return of Keion Brooks Jr. for next season.
This has been the biggest question of the offseason when it comes to the roster for next season. After rumors started to circulate that Brooks might be looking transfer, and Indiana being a potential destination, fans have been on edge waiting to here an official announcement.
Well, this is about the closest thing you could ask for, though Brooks has obviously not made an official announcement.
In addition, it doesn’t appear Kentucky will be adding any new players next season, and Calipari is still unsure if either of Davion Mintz and/or Isaiah Jackson return next season (Jackson has since announced he’s staying in the draft).
More confirmation of Calipari expecting Brooks back:— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) May 28, 2021
"This should be Keion's year."
"He's that veteran that you're saying, 'You've got to be the center of this.' "
Is Calipari done adding players for this season? "Very rarely do we ever hit 13 scholarships. We have no intention of adding anybody right now. We're not out searching and I don't see anything. I think we're where we are, even if Davion and Isaiah choose to stay in the draft."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) May 28, 2021
Calipari asked directly if he believes Davion Mintz will return: "I don't know. Again, this stuff is hard for the kids and their families. The thing I try to do is say, 'Okay, what's the downside. Can you deal with it? Here's the upside.'" Says he'll support him regardless.— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) May 28, 2021
New assistant coaches Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman made it sound like Kentucky could use all 13 scholarships for next season, but based on Calipari’s comments today, it doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing any new additions, even if Kentucky loses both of Jackson/Mintz to the pros.
Last season, Brooks averaged 10.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He missed the first nine games of the season due to an injury, and COVID-19 kept him from having a normal offseason.
If Kentucky expects to be a contender again this season, Brooks will have to continue his steady growth coming into his junior season. With a full offseason, there’s reason to be hopeful for a breakout in Year 3.
With the current roster set up fans can expect to see Brooks play more power forward, especially if Coach Cal is committed to running a four-out offense. He will have the opportunity to use his athleticism taking guys off the dribble, post up potential smaller defenders, but the main point of growth that needs to happen this season is his three-point percentage. This past season he shot 21.6% from three, if he can get that number up to 30-32 than fans can expect this team to be competitive once again.
Now it’s just a waiting game to see if Davion Mintz will return for another season in Lexington. He has until July 7th to either keep his name or remove it from the NBA draft.