A few weeks ago, UK basketball commitment Tyrese Maxey was saying he thought the chances were “pretty good” that he could persuade his friend and fellow five-star recruit Keion Brooks to join him at Kentucky, then he ended that statement with this:
“I know Keion really likes Indiana, but I’m going to keep talking to him,” Maxey told the Herald-Leader.
The national recruiting experts also appear to like the Hoosiers’ chances with Brooks, a Fort Wayne standout and one of the best forwards in the class of 2019.
In a recent roundup of predictions on Rivals.com, three of four recruiting experts — including national analysts Eric Bossi and Corey Evans — picked Indiana for Brooks. (The other predicted Michigan State).
The most recent Crystal Ball pick on Brooks’ 247Sports page also comes from a national analyst, Jerry Meyer, who is also predicting the Hoosiers will keep their local star close to home. Another notable Crystal Ball pick — made last fall — comes from national recruiting expert Andrew Slater, and he, too, thinks it’ll be Indiana.
Keion Brooks Sr., the five-star player’s father, says that’s all premature, laughing at the notion that anyone is out in front of his son’s recruitment at the moment.
“There are no favorites. There’s none of that,” he told the Herald-Leader at Nike’s Peach Jam event over the weekend. “We’re taking it day by day. It’s about building the relationships, and, at the end of the day, to find out what’s the real fit and what will be the best situation for him to help him reach his goals.
“It won’t be about geography. It will be about Keion and how will he be able to get there to reach the goal he wants to reach. … He understands the whole thing of the recruitment and what’s at stake of where he needs to go and what he needs to do. The whole thing of how Indiana’s grown — and they’ve done a great job since the new coaching staff has come in — but at the end of the day, I think Keion is still understanding that it has to be the right fit for him. So he’ll focus in on that and that’ll be the decision that will help determine where he goes to school.”
For now, Brooks is still looking at 10 schools: Georgetown, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue, Texas and UCLA. His father said the plan is to get through the rest of July — there are two more evaluation periods for college coaches — and then sit down as a family and try to narrow his list.
Kentucky is expected to make the next cut, too, and Brooks Sr. said they do plan to take one of his five official visits to Lexington.
One of the first players in the 2019 class to land a UK scholarship offer, Brooks has been a primary focus of John Calipari and assistant coach Tony Barbee for the past few months. That attention has not gone unnoticed.
“I think they’ve done a great job recruiting him,” Brooks Sr. said. “Coach Barbee and Coach Cal have really put emphasis on how much they really want him. And they’ve put in the time and work in to build the relationship with him. That’s good for me to understand that, because this guy gets just about anybody he wants in the country. And to be wanting my son, that means a lot.”
Brooks — a 6-foot-7, 185-pound small forward — is ranked No. 9 nationally by 247Sports, and he earned all-Nike league honors this spring after averaging 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 blocked shots per game. His versatile game would be a great fit at Kentucky — or anywhere, for that matter — and his professional aspirations line up with Calipari’s track record of getting highly touted recruits to the NBA.
“How he’s developing the kids to get them prepared for the next level has been one of the biggest things we’ve seen,” Brooks Sr. said. “Having the opportunity to see him take talent — that most people think you can’t have that much talent around and still be successful — he finds a way to have those guys play together and be as a team and not just individuals.
“A lot of the guys that go there could go anywhere in the country and probably have it go their way. But he molds them into a team and teaches them how to play the right way.”
To that point, Brooks Sr. said his top-10 son wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight at a college program that might also feature several other McDonald’s All-American-caliber players.
“He’s a kid who’s very unselfish. He loves his teammates,” he said. “So, I mean, that would be a great thing to have that many guys around you who are just as good. That makes the game that much easier.”
Brooks Sr., said his son didn’t grow up a fan of any particular college basketball program and doesn’t have a specific timetable for when he’d like to make a college decision. The player himself has told the Herald-Leader the same in recent weeks, and there’s seemingly no rush to get his recruitment wrapped up anytime soon.
“It’s all on him. It’s going to be his decision,” Brooks Sr. said. “Me and his mom don’t pressure him to make a decision. At the end of the day, it’s got to be something that he feels inside. That he knows that he’s going to be there and he’s going to be accepting of where he’s going. It’s not going to be my decision or his mom’s decision. It’s going to come down to him and the way he feels.
“I don’t have any timetable for him. As long as he needs is as long as I’m going to be here to help him and get through it.”