At times, college decisions for high-profile athletes can be an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience. When you factor in all of the positive attention and prestigious programs trying to woo you, it’s certainly a nice stroke of the ego.
In other instances, the recruiting process can be both physically and emotionally draining. When it comes to taking visits, fielding countless phone calls and texts, being pulled in numerous directions, weighing all the factors, etc., there is a massive sense of a relief when it finally comes to a close.
For Kentucky signee Keion Brooks Jr., he is fits into the latter category.
Growing up in Fort Wayne, IN, the 6-foot-8 forward had the obvious pull of staying in-state and playing for the hometown Indiana Hoosiers. On the flip side, when you have some of the most historic college basketball programs of all time, you have to listen.
Now signed, sealed, and delivered for the Kentucky Wildcats, Brooks admitted to KSR at the Jordan Brand Classic this weekend that the end of his recruitment got a little “hectic.”
“The last couple weeks going into it was kind of hectic,” he said. “Everybody knew that a decision was coming up, all the coaches were still trying to reach out to me and give me their final pitch on why I should go to their school.”
According to the five-star forward, his trip to Lexington for Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee with College GameDay in town had a pretty significant impact on his final decision.
“It definitely moved the scale in Kentucky’s favor,” Brooks said. “I wouldn’t say my mind was made up at the time, but it definitely moved it in their favor. The game was lit, I had never been to a game before there. I had been to (Big Blue Madness), but never to an actual game. The atmosphere was crazy, Kentucky played really well that night, and Tennessee was the No. 1 team in the country at the time. So the atmosphere was live and I really enjoyed myself.”
After sitting down with his family and weighing all of his options just a few weeks later, Brooks decided that it was in his best interest to turn down the hometown Hoosiers and attend the University of Kentucky.
While he has received backlash from Indiana fans following his announcement, Brooks said he is relieved to finally have the process over with and couldn’t be happier with his final decision.
“After I got the decision out of the way, it’s been great,” he said. “Just being able to communicate with the Kentucky coaching staff, texting back and forth with Kahlil, Tyrese, and Dontaie, our upcoming class coming in. It just felt really good, really relaxing, to finally get that off of my chest.”
So what was it that put Kentucky over the edge? Brooks told KSR that his relationship with Coach Cal won out in the end, as he trusts the UK head coach to help him reach his dreams after his college career comes to a close.
“What put Kentucky over the top is just the relationship I have with Coach Cal,” he said. “The last time I spoke to him, I felt very comfortable with moving forward and taking my talents to Kentucky. He has an unbelievable track record of getting players where they want to be, and I feel like I have the talent and ability to be an NBA player.”
Simply put, no one on his list put him in position to develop as a player and eventually thrive in the NBA the way Kentucky can.
“I just needed a coach that would help me and show me the way so I can finally get there,” he said. “Kentucky was the best option for that.”