Today, Keion Brooks Jr. announced his commitment to Kentucky. The longtime IU target instead will join another star-studded UK recruiting class. Brooks is a 5-star prospect and is currently ranked the #23 recruit and the #6 small forward of the 2019 class, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. Brooks reportedly had offers from 21 programs before ultimately signing with the Wildcats (UCLA, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Purdue were also in the mix during the early stages).
Brooks originally attended Fort Wayne North Side but transferred to La Lumiere for his senior season. Last year as a junior, Brooks averaged 23.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He is an effective scorer but openly admits that his 3-pt shot is still a work in progress. Despite still improving his shooting consistency, Brooks has no trouble getting buckets. One of the most impressive aspects of his game is that he never shies away from contact. He is a great rebounder and isn’t afraid to mix it up in the post. He always boxes out and can get to the rim at will. While he is somewhat slender in build, he is almost always one of the most physical players on the court.
Even though he had every major program in the country knocking at his door, Brooks always seemed to have a special connection to IU, leading many to speculate that the Hoosiers were the front-runners. First, Brooks’ father played for IU assistant Ed Schilling at Wright State. Then, there is the fact that Brooks’ close friend Trayce Jackson-Davis committed to Indiana in November. The two have always spoke highly of each other and, while not a package deal, openly pondered about how fun it would be to play together. Brooks insisted they would only join forces if it benefited both of them “to the maximum.”
Finally, Brooks has continually shown admiration to the state of Indiana. He once told the IndyStar, “We are not called the basketball state for no reason… I take pride in representing my state, representing my city where I’m from, so that really plays a lot in my decision of what I’m going to do.” He also noted that going to IU means that are “taken care of” for the rest of your life.
Yet, Brooks instead will be the latest addition to what is sure to be one of the best teams (and freshman classes) in the country. The tide seemed to be turning in favor of UK in late February/early March. As Indiana’s struggles were on display, rumors began to trickle that Kentucky was neck-and-neck with the Hoosiers. Earlier this week, both Miller and Calipari met with Brooks. Immediately after the Kentucky meeting, Rivals and 247Sports updated their commitment prediction to Kentucky. From a basketball perspective, this decision likely means Brooks will have to fight for playing time, as opposed to IU where he would have been immediately given major minutes.
While IU does have some young talented wings, they have nowhere near the logjam of bodies that Kentucky has on the roster. UK has a multitude of wings that have previously committed to incoming 2019 class, including 5-star small forward Khalil Whitney (#7 overall, #1 SF), 4-star small forward Dantaie Allen (#108 overall, #24 SF), and 5-star combo guard Tyrese Maxey (#9 overall, #2 CG). Not to mention, there is the possibility of wings that are currently on the roster choosing to return to school.
Despite the cornucopia of talented prospects on the roster, Kentucky still has a certain lure and provides a great deal of spotlight for recruits. Moreover, there is Coach Calipari’s known predilection for molding potential into a viable NBA mainstay. In fact, Brooks and his family have spoken about how they enjoy Calipari’s honest recruiting pitches. Whatever the reason, this will certainly go down as yet another major victory in Calipari’s long list of recruiting successes. With Brooks strong connection to Indiana and fact that Jackson-Davis committed to the Hoosiers, Calipari’s ability to steal him away from Archie Miller is one of his more impressive recruiting moments over recent years. When everyone thought he was leaning heavily toward IU, Calipari was able to turn the tables and bring him to Lexington. And, now, he will be rewarded with yet another loaded squad, as Indiana fans are dealt another blow.
The commitment of Brooks is the first stumbling block of coach Archie Miller’s in-state recruiting plan. Prior to Brooks, Miller had done a terrific job of keeping Indiana’s high school elite at home. Both commitments so far of the 2019 class all reside in Indiana (including Cathedral shooting guard Armaan Franklin and Center Grove center Trayce Jackson-Davis). Last season, Miller also dominated in-state recruitment with the signings of Romeo Langford (New Albany), Rob Phinisee (McCutcheon), and Damezi Anderson (South Bend Riley).
Despite not signing Brooks, Indiana still has a talented crop of recruits and returning contributors. Thus, while fans will surely be disappointed with this outcome, there is still much to look forward to come fall..
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