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Sunday Headlines: Keion Brooks Breakout Edition

Jon Rotstein thinks Keion Brooks is in for a big year

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of focus has been on incoming transfers and freshmen in Lexington, but a returning player might be Kentucky’s x-factor this season.

Jon Rothstein has a knack for picking Kentucky breakout players over the last few years (i.e. Immanuel Quickley, Isaiah Jackson) and this year, Rothstein is throwing out Keion Brooks as a breakout player for the Wildcats this upcoming season.

“Last year, some of the best games Kentucky played was with him in the lineup,” Rothstein told Kentucky Sports Radio. “He had 15 points and nine rebounds when Kentucky beat LSU, he had 12 and 6 when Kentucky beat Florida. And let’s remember that Kentucky didn’t have Keion Brooks in the lineup until January 9. If you look at it right now from a record perspective, they were 7-10 last year with Keion Brooks in the lineup, 2-6 without him. I think that says a lot.”

Many thought Brooks would take a big sophomore leap after his freshman year, but COVID and injuries didn’t really allow for Keion to take the jump he hoped for and many fans expected.

But that’s not to say Keion didn’t show quite a bit of improvement.

He increased his scoring average from 4.5 points per game to just over 10 per game. He also increased his rebounding numbers from 3.2 per game in 2019-2020 to 6.8 per game.

With new guards and shooters on the team, along with Oscar Tshiebwe anchoring the middle, Brooks has the ability to be a four that can stretch defenses if he can improve his jump shot while also attacking the rim.

“To me, that’s the guy that’s going to make this whole thing go,” said Rothstein. “If at one, two and three, you’re going to have interchangeable pieces with good shooting and quality ball handling, you are going to have a scenario where you’re going to need someone who can pass, dribble and shoot at the four spot to bring it all together. To me, that guy for Kentucky is Keion Brooks.”

Make no mistake about it, bringing Brooks back was a major offseason victory for John Calipari. He fits the bill for what you want in a stretch four if he can make some strides on his jumper and his experience and leadership are extremely valuable traits for a team that will include several newcomers.

All aboard the Keion Brooks hype train.

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