Keion Brooks says Calipari has big plans for him
Shortly after highly touted basketball recruit Keion Brooks revealed his commitment to Kentucky on Friday night, La Lumiere (Ind.) head coach Pat Holmes joined the CBS Sports HQ broadcast of his star player’s announcement ceremony to offer some insight on the future Wildcat.
Holmes, whose La Lumiere squad is ranked No. 1 nationally with a 28-0 record, set high expectations for Brooks during his conversation with 247Sports analysts Evan Daniels and Brian Snow, who hosted the announcement ceremony and led off the questioning by asking what sticks out most about the UK commitment’s game.
“Just his work ethic,” Holmes said. “Every single day, he comes to practice ready to work, ready to get better. He receives coaching, takes coaching, wants to know what he needs to do better to not only help his his game get better but help the team get better.”
Brooks left Fort Wayne North Side High School after his junior season to attend La Lumiere, which competes against a national schedule and features several future Division I players.
“You come into a situation like ours, a lot of guys make sacrifices from an individual standpoint — (coming from) where they could be averaging 30 points a game — he knew that coming into spot like ours,” Holmes said. “And he just wants to win. And help our team win and help our team be successful. And I think that’s what you’re going to get at Kentucky. You’re going to get a guy who’s going to work hard every single day. He’s going to spend countless hours in the gym, by himself or with a coach. And he’s just a high character kid both on and off the court.
“He’s going to take care of his academics. He’s going to be a part of your community. And he’s going to be a great teammate.”
Holmes said that Brooks — listed at 6-7 and around 185 pounds — was used to spending more time in the post as a younger player but that his game had moved away from the basket more recently, and that continued during his senior season at La Lumiere.
Brooks’ versatility is also something that Calipari has mentioned on the recruiting trail, and it should be a great fit for next season’s Kentucky roster.
“He’s versatile in everything he does,” Holmes said. “He’s expanded his game — really worked on his game — to get out on the perimeter and consistently make jump shots on the three point. That’s something we’ve worked on with him. I think the next evolution of his game is consistently getting better with the ball, getting stronger with the ball. Keep working on his playmaking abilities — not only for himself but for his teammates.
“He rebounds the ball at a high level; he’s a great athlete. And on the defensive end, he’s going to bring a lot of versatility, because he’s got great length, great size — to where you can switch ball screens. At our level, he’s guarding ‘1’ through ‘4’ and … he’s used to getting down on the low post and doing the dirty work. Like I said, he’s a guy who’s going to compete every possession, and he’s going to want to be coached and want to be pushed.”
Brooks has also already been through a similar situation as the one he’ll face in Lexington next season. During his CBS Sports HQ interview, Holmes mentioned multiple times the fact that Brooks was able to transition his game to fit his new team — which already had several established players — and still make everything work.
At UK next season, he’ll join fellow freshmen Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen — the latter two play a similar position as Brooks — as well as whatever players return from this season’s team. As is always the case at Kentucky, playing time will be hard-earned.
“It’s going to be great,” Holmes said. “Obviously, Kentucky’s got a lot of moving pieces year in and year out with their one-and-dones. But with the class coming in — they’ve got him, Tyrese, Dontaie and Kahlil — and they’ll be graduating a lot. I know it’s been communicated that they were looking for wings and guys on the perimeter with versatility, and I think Kentucky is just trying to finish up getting some post players in their class.
“But, like I said, he’s going to do great there. Coach Cal is going to do a great job putting him into a position to succeed. And the thing I know about Keion is — and I believe Kentucky told him, ‘You get what you earn’ — and he’s a kid that’s bought into that. He’s not looking for a handout. He’s not asking for guaranteed playing time when he gets there. He knows he’s got to go and work. But that’s why he’s successful.”