It isn't often the Kentucky Wildcats have a third-year player on their roster, but it’s even more rare to see a fourth-year guy.
Unfortunately, we likely won’t be seeing with Keion Brooks Jr., who is entering the NCAA transfer portal. StockRisers’ Jake Weingarten was the first to break the news.
Brooks is also currently testing the NBA Draft waters, though he’s widely projected to go undrafted.
KBJ came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit ranked No. 24 overall by the 247 Sports Composite Rankings. Brooks chose Kentucky over the home-state Indiana Hoosiers, which was a huge recruiting win for John Calipari and Co.
The 6-foot-7 forward played just 15 minutes per game his freshman year averaging 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per contest. He showed flashes throughout his first year of his potential and after a huge performance in the 2020 season finale against the Florida Gators, the BBN was confident he’d make a big jump heading into his sophomore season.
His sophomore year, Keion obviously didn’t get a normal offseason, à la Immanuel Quickley and PJ Washington, which definitely slowed his development. Even worse, Brooks started the year injured and missed the team’s first nine games.
However, while Brooks didn’t make a jump into a first round NBA Draft selection, he did improve quite a bit. In 23 minutes per game, Brooks averaged 10.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Despite struggling with consistency, a return for his junior season had Kentucky fans ready to hang No. 9.
Unfortunately, Brooks never fixed those consistency issues. As a junior, Brooks averaged 10.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and one assist per game, while shooting 49% from the field and 23% from deep. Brooks flourished in the mid-range game, but with a non-shooting point guard and back-to-the basket big down low, there wasn't always space for him to operate.
Brooks emerged as a leader, but his play never got to where we all hoped it would. His inability to dribble or finish in traffic is certainly a concern, especially considering he can’t shoot from the outside. He does have excellent athleticism, but he wasn't always able to flash it.
Some of Brooks’ big performances this past season include: 22 points and eight rebounds against the Ohio Bobcats; 17 points and eight rebounds against the Albany Great Danes; 17 points and nine rebounds against the Missouri Tigers; an unbeliever 27-point, eight-rebound performance in Lawrence as UK throttled the Kansas Jayhawks on their home court; 18 points and eight rebounds against the Alabama Crimson Tide; and 19 points and five rebounds against the Tennessee Volunteers in the semifinal loss of the SEC Tournament.
There’s always the chance that KBJ could return, but it’s more likely that he decides to start his pro career now or transfer elsewhere—maybe back home to the Indiana Hoosiers, who he was rumored to be mulling a move to last offseason.
Good luck to Keion as decides the next move in his basketball career.