UK Recruiting

‘Mystery’ still surrounds the decision of five-star UK basketball target Keion Brooks

Keion Brooks says Calipari has big plans for him

Five-star basketball recruit Keion Brooks says UK Coach John Calipari is telling him he could play just like Kevin Knox did for the Wildcats.
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Five-star basketball recruit Keion Brooks says UK Coach John Calipari is telling him he could play just like Kevin Knox did for the Wildcats.

It’s been several days since Keion Brooks announced the date that he will reveal his college choice — and that decision day is now just a little more than a week away — but plenty of intrigue still surrounds the five-star basketball recruit.

Usually, once a prospect like Brooks announces his decision date — March 15, in this case — a flurry of public predictions follows. Word of the college choice leaks out, and the secret doesn’t stay secret for long.

So far, that hasn’t been the case with Brooks.

“I thought — once that commitment date was set — we would see some movement, but we haven’t,” said Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans, who logged a Future Cast prediction for Indiana back in October.

“I’m still sticking with Indiana, for now, until more credible information comes in,” Evans told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday evening. “I think it’s more of a gut (feeling). Talking with the powers that be, they thought more that it was Kentucky a few weeks ago, but, as we know, a lot changes in the recruitment of a five-star prospect in a matter of weeks.”

The consensus seems to be that — while it might be tough to name a clear favorite — Brooks’ recruitment ultimately comes down to home-state Indiana and blue-blood recruiting power UK.

For the longest time, the Hoosiers were the perceived favorite for Brooks — a 6-foot-7 forward from Fort Wayne — but that status might have taken a hit during IU’s dreadful run of Big Ten games this year. The Hoosiers, seemingly on the verge of a turnaround in their second season under head coach Archie Miller, lost 12 of 13 games starting in early January. Last week, they knocked off Wisconsin and Michigan State — two ranked teams — and Brooks announced the day after IU’s win over the Spartans that he had set a decision date.

“Was that enough to kind of push IU over the top?” Evans asked. “I don’t know.”

While IU was losing all those games, Brooks popped up in Lexington to see UK defeat No. 1-ranked Tennessee at Rupp Arena. The buzz following that visit indicated that the highly touted recruit might be ready to go ahead and commit to the Cats, but that didn’t happen right away.

There was a run of pro-UK picks on Brooks’ 247Sports Crystal Ball page right after the Lexington trip, but nothing new for the several days that followed his decision date announcement.

As of Thursday, all of the predictions on Brooks’ Rivals.com Future Cast page were still in Indiana’s favor. Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi wrote Monday morning that he was still leaning toward Indiana for his Brooks’ pick, but noted he had not logged an “official” Future Cast prediction just yet. Only one new pick has been logged on Brooks’ Crystal Ball page this week: longtime Indiana reporter Mike Pegram picked UK on Wednesday night.

“I definitely think there’s a little mystery,” said 247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels. “I think Kentucky has some good momentum in that one. But I think people are guessing.”

Daniels, who has not yet logged a Crystal Ball pick and told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that he’s not sure when or if he will, said Brooks has been close to ending his recruitment a couple of different times in the past. Michigan State and North Carolina have also been mentioned as possible landing spots over the past few months.

“I think Keion has wanted to get this decision out of the way for a long time, so I think he set a date to kind of push him toward going ahead and making that final choice,” Daniels said.

Evans noted that Brooks and his family — as well as his high school coaches at La Lumiere (Ind.) — have done a good job keeping a lid on the recruiting buzz, limiting any leaked information and keeping fans and analysts guessing.

“They want to make sure that Keion kind of has his own day,” he said.

Daniels agreed with that, adding that another reason for the continued mystery is simply that Brooks and his family have been genuinely weighing their options.

“I think it’s partly that they’ve really struggled to make a college choice,” he said. “Because they’ve got some really good options. … I think it’s more of that, probably, than just being secretive.”

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Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.


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