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What does Keion Brooks Jr.’s commitment mean for Kentucky?

After months of a back-and-forth recruitment, 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. ended up turning down the hometown Indiana Hoosiers and committing to John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Live from his old middle school, St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Brooks Jr. made the announcement in front of his closest friends and family members. And it’s a decision he says he’s extremely happy with.

Before we get into what this decision means for Kentucky, let’s first take a look at how this thing played out.

How did we get to this point?

Though his final list consisted of four teams, there is no debate that this decision came down to two schools: Kentucky and Indiana.

As mentioned in Pilgrim’s Insider Notes on Tuesday, Michigan State felt they were out of the running this past weekend, and North Carolina has been feeling that way for several weeks now. The Kentucky and Indiana coaching staffs, however, each felt fairly confident in their chances. UK felt John Calipari’s “Kentucky isn’t for everyone” pitch resonated well with Brooks, while Archie Miller took over the recruitment on Indiana’s side of things and felt his team’s “hometown hero” pitch would win out in the end.

To put it simply, if Indiana wasn’t struggling so badly this season and the Romeo Langford experiment worked out better, it absolutely would have worked. Brooks has wanted to play at Indiana for a long time, and that was going to be the choice. It’s not a secret.

With how well Kentucky has turned things around and developed this team for March, combined with Indiana likely missing the NCAA Tournament and their fanbase acting like the sky is falling, it was just the perfect storm for the Wildcats to come in and pull off the upset.

Before the big announcement, I wrote a quick post with some last-minute thoughts on Brooks, and I ended it with a note that I was feeling really confident about Kentucky’s chances this evening. You can check it out here:

Last-minute thoughts on Keion Brooks Jr. before the announcement

Over the last three weeks or so (basically ever since Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee at Rupp Arena with Brooks Jr. in attendance), I had been hearing from multiple angles that the Cats maintained a slight lead over the hometown Hoosiers.

After some silence to start the week, I (finally) heard a fairly significant bit of information from a strong source that Kentucky was the choice. That being said, that didn’t come until early today, which leads me to believe a final decision wasn’t made until yesterday at some point. John Calipari flew up to Fort Wayne, IN on Tuesday and Archie Miller visited on Wednesday, and from what I know, Brooks left both meetings without a decision. From there, he sat down with his family one last time and felt that his basketball future was simply better off at Kentucky.

This evening, he made it official with a quick and easy announcement in favor of the Wildcats (seriously, it was like 30 seconds long).

Now, onto what it means for Kentucky going forward.

Kentucky got a star

Ranked anywhere from No. 17 overall (247 Sports) to No. 38 (ESPN), the 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward is one of the most versatile prospects in the class of 2019, making it no surprise that John “Mr. Positionless” Calipari was dying to get him in Lexington.

With the ability to grab a rebound, run the break, and finish on his own or distribute to one of his teammates, he’s proven throughout his high school career that he’s absolutely phenomenal in transition. He can knock down jumpers at a solid rate, but he’s going to make his money on the run.

In terms of player comparisons, I would say he’s a mix between Jarred Vanderbilt and Kevin Knox. He’s long, strong, active, maintains a high motor, and has a tremendous basketball IQ. If there are 37 better basketball players in the nation, you’ll have to tell me who they are. I won’t believe you, regardless.

Seriously, just watch his highlights and tell me this kid isn’t going to be a star:

The 2019 recruiting class is coming together

Kentucky has had commitments and/or signatures from five-star guard Tyrese Maxey, five-star forward Kahlil Whitney, and four-star forward Dontaie Allen.

Beyond those three, the Wildcats had yet to secure a commitment in the frontcourt before today, and the elite options were running dry. James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., and Isaiah Stewart, among others, all opted for other programs, leaving the Wildcats extremely limited to close things out.

With Brooks now on board, things just got a whole lot easier for the Kentucky coaching staff moving forward. He’s not a true power forward (he’s actually more of a three than a four), but he has the ability to thrive at either position.

Now, Kentucky will likely need to sign just one more big man prospect to close out their 2019 recruiting class.

The UK coaching staff must be selective moving forward

With Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery likely returning next season and Brooks now on board, there’s really only one more spot to fill in the Kentucky frontcourt.

Between 2019 five-star prospects Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt, potential 2020 reclassification candidates in Isaiah Todd and N’Faly Dante, and any potential graduate transfers we don’t even know about right now, the Kentucky coaching staff will have to be careful with how they spend their time on the recruiting trail.

Spread the love too much, and it might not be enough to separate themselves from the other contenders. Put all their eggs in one basket, and there’s a risk of missing out on that prospect, where it might be too late to make up ground elsewhere.

Obviously it’s a great position to be in to need just one more piece instead of several to close out a recruiting class, but the point still remains.

Kentucky is going to play differently next season

Several months ago, I was told the Kentucky coaching staff was looking to go back to Calipari’s dribble drive offense and focus on playing at a consistently fast pace, and Brooks’ addition only confirms that.

As mentioned earlier, the newest Wildcat thrives in that style of play, giving Kentucky a lot to work with next season. They can go small with Brooks at the four,

Add a player like McDaniels or Hurt, and the Cats would have one of the most athletic and offensively-skilled teams Calipari has had at Kentucky. They’d be able to shoot from every position on the floor, dominate on fast breaks, toss alley-oops, block shots, and convert on steals.

If things close out how the staff is hoping, the idea of feeding the ball inside and letting the star frontcourt players go to work would be a thing of the past. This group would thrive on setting up easy inside shots and lobs, finding open shooters on the perimeter, and slashing to the basket.

Needless to say, Brooks’ addition was massive for Kentucky on multiple levels. No matter what happens with expected and toss-up NBA Draft decisions, the Cats now have a roster capable of making a run next season.

Add one more elite piece? Goodness gracious.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

46 Comments for What does Keion Brooks Jr.’s commitment mean for Kentucky?

  1. Han
    9:34 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

    I still think we’re in a good spot for Hurt and have ever since I saw an interview where his dad said he’s going to college to become a professional basketball player. People looking to be one-and-done have UK and Duke as their top choices, usually.

    • Kat4Life
      10:13 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      Agreed…..and it’s Duke that concerns me

  2. LilBigBird
    9:51 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

    Junior Nick Richards is about to be pulling up from Steph range??

    • LilBigBird
      9:52 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      ??=Meteor emoji

    • J-Dub421
      11:20 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      Nick is on the WCS path. Willie had a pretty good junior year, if I recall correctly.

  3. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
    10:37 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

    FWIW if Brooks has some long desire to play hometown hero he would’ve committed long ago and the narrative of how bad IU has been with Langford can be totally disregarded. There is a reason he committed after his season was over, IU fans are ruthlessly stupid and would’ve harassed him all year, not like people in Arkansas or Wisconsin so he couldn’t commit early. Read your own notes…he hasn’t made an official visit since Kentucky in November and only visited Kentucky since then. It’s always been UK

    • Bruce Dickinson
      11:21 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      Totally agree. IU fans are delusional about how great their program is. It hasn’t been good in a long time. If you have to brag about a win during the season, then you are mediocre at best.

    • henderblue
      9:31 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Also 100% agree with Bruce

    • jeffj
      11:40 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      well written jack ..thanks

    • Cletis75
      2:37 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Maybe, but I think he was waiting to see if IU was gonna improve Romeo’s game or at least make a run for the tournament before seasons end. When he realized that wasn’t going to happen he decided to set his commitment date. To improve his game for the next level, he knows our record is 2nd to none.

    • henderblue
      9:28 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      I 100% agree with that FlatTop.

  4. bigblue2284
    10:52 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

    Pump the breaks on the star talk he isn’t even top 10 in the class. He will be ok but with no elite talent around him this just doesn’t do much in the big picture, let me know if Cal ever lands a top 5 talent again.

    • Cokely53
      11:03 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      You changing your name again? Mommy help you with this one?

    • J-Dub421
      11:22 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      Yeah, we’ve been so terrible under Coach Cal. What with the 6 Elite Eights, 4 Final Fours, Title, and Runner Up….

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      11:25 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      Duke with 2 top 5 players suck, Coach Killyomomma has to have 3 top 5 players to when against ok teams. Cal is winning with less rankings wise then coach Kindalikestoblowplayers usually has.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      11:26 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      To win

    • IrishCat
      11:37 pm March 15, 2019 Permalink

      Okay, well we’ve already got two top 10 players in the class so….

    • bigblue2284
      12:14 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Hey Jdub that’s awesome he’s only had 35 nba level players to achieve that with….Falling flat on his face at least three times when he had the favorite to when it all.

    • bigbluebanana
      12:34 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Can you and your miserable friends go play in traffic? Your argument is dumb at best. Criticize all you want, even I do that, but keep your constant negativity out of our feed. I’ve known a lot of shltty, fair weather UK fans in my life, but none have ever gone out of their way to only point out bad things every time they open their mouth. You, and the other punk bigolblue, along with bashburn and a couple others make me sick. You’re a phony, a fake, and a punk if all you can do in life is nitpick the negative in everything. How very, very sad to live like that. Cal has won more meaningful games and has out coached K since he’s been here. K has all that talent too, even more. Lastly, UK has only ever been the favorite twice since Cal got here, and they won one of them. That’s just math. By all means, keep running your mouth, all we hear is muffled fart noises when you speak. If ksr has a private chat feature, I can’t fathom the circle jerk you’d have with the other two amigos.

    • speaksthetruth
      6:18 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      So tell us who should be our coach! Think real hard because according to all of the cal haters the new coach must…
      1. Never lose to an unranked team.
      2. Have the #1 recruiting class every year.
      3. Have great 4 year players.
      4. Win every game to unranked teams by 15-20 points.
      5. Somehow make free throws for their players.
      6. Go to the final four every year and win a title every other.
      I’ll hang up and listen to you answer.

    • bigblue2284
      12:14 am March 16, 2019 Permalink


    • RAGE
      9:08 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Hey Tyler Herro wasn’t top 10…. I wish we had a team full of players like HERRO… Rankings don’t mean anything and stars ain’t always right…

    • ukcamel
      10:43 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      According to bigblue: Cal both doesn’t get top players and should have more success because he’s had so many top players.

    • mashburnfan1
      2:57 pm March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Reality is we have to wait and see how good he is. Richards was #1 C in the country….Really? Great young man and hope he continues to work and improve but he was not good as a FR and is serviceable at best as a Soph. like Keldon and Ashton this year. Had many that way, so will Brooks be that, will he be a dud like Skal, SKJ and others, will he be very good like Wall, Herro, Fox etc or will he be like AD, Zion and a few others that were very dominant. Have to wait and see once they actually play at this level.

  5. bigblue2284
    12:12 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    Sorry your right we have two players barley in the top
    Ten at number 8 and 10. Remember when we had top 5 players every year? Yea me too. Oh by the way guess who has the number on player again…

    • bigbluebanana
      12:36 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      If you want us to take you seriously, go back to 2nd grade and learn the difference between your and you’re. My 8 yo does it, so can you. Remember the time before Cal when we never had top 5 players? Yeah, me too?

    • IrishCat
      7:44 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Georgia has the number one player. Try again..

    • gasman01
      11:22 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      After the year Georgia had, not sure they will keep him….

    • 4everUKblue
      7:55 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      go back and look at who had the top class of recruits the last three seasons and tell me how that turned out. You’re idol and basketball god, K did in case you forgot, let me help you remember.

      2015–16 Duke 25–11 11–7 T–5th NCAA Division I Sweet 16
      2016–17 Duke 28–9 11–7 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 32
      2017–18 Duke 29–8 13–5 2nd NCAA Division I Elite Eight

      Do you need me to post the rosters too? You must be bashburn and BigolSlaterMedic’s little brother.

    • bigblue2284
      10:10 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Whose had more draft picks since 2009 Cal or K? Now who has more chips?

    • bigblue2284
      10:14 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      News flash Banana Cal doesn’t get top 5 talent anymore. Also is it possible for you to post one reply without resorting to cheap insults? I suspect because you have zero rebuttal based on fact.

    • bigbluebanana
      11:59 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      No, because you’re an idiot. I make it my business to call idiots out. Can you stop being so sensitive and having your feelings hurt by words?

    • ukcamel
      10:49 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Bill Self has been to one title game since 2009, whichhe lost to us. But you don’t see Kansas fans saying he needs to go because they aren’t retards.

    • bigbluebreeze
      6:00 am March 17, 2019 Permalink

      Rumor is that he’s done with Kansas and moving onto the NBA

  6. EastKY-BlueBlood
    3:54 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    I love that rankings that vary from site to site, are the absolute gospel!! LOL!! These recruiting gurus, they have it EXACTLY the way it is, perfect order!! Like Avery Bradley and Derek Favors ranked 1 and 2,and the GREAT Xavier Henry 3rd!! Then Cousins and Wall, 4 and 5!! LOL!! Kawhi Leonard, coming in really high in that if ur NOT TOP 5, your NOT truly Elite, at #56!! Not to mention All-STAR Khris Middleton #82.. That’s garbage, bc Henry is 100x’s over the talent he is!! Hell, he was TOP 5, by the media!!LOL KAT, he def wasn’t elite.. Pathetic excuse, “BARELY” ranked in the Top 10!! Not nearly as special as Okafor and the other big, that was the ONLY “2” GUYS the entire Mcd’s ALL-STAR game was talked about, the GREAT CLIFF ALEXANDER!! He was #2, KAT barely Top 10, you know THE GOSPEL, so it’s really amazing what Towns has done with his career, coming from a no name, under the category NO recruit wants to fall in, the barely TOP 10 out of 1,000’s of HS sr’s, voted and debated on by a group of media members, of whatever site they wrk for!! If a guy is ranked 5, another 6, such as Fox at 6, or amy other kid any yr, CAN ABSOLUTELY NOT be the exceptional ELITE talent of the guy who is ranked that 1 sacred spot ahead at 5!! It’s absolutely impossible!! Just like Skal!! No kid I’d rather root for, but you seen how he carried that team, only to be dragged down by the NOT TOP 5’s like Murray and Ulis!! So I get it.. There isn’t such a thing of really knowing the game, and being able to watch a kid, and tell if he has elite skill set that should transform.. It can ONLY be the SPECIAL kids ranked 1-5, by media members, Paul Biancardi’s of the world, and those sad sacks ranked in just NOT ELITE enough purgatory, you know the 6-10 players, that really drag down programs all over the country, who has to fill out a roster, and eventually bites on one, knowing they can’t be any possible outcome that their #7 recruit, could EVER be actually better than #4!! BC, Paul Biancardi, Jerry Meyer’s of the world said so!! Perfect example, Devin Booker, could NEVER be elite, or better than ANY of the 17 players ranked ahead of him!! That is his fate!! Never forget, 2 things you can never go wrong on, bc the info laid out in front of you, is to live by, bc it’s exact gospel!! Ppl use to think only 1, and that was the Holy Bible! Which I do not joke abt, and firmly take as just that, the gospel. Odd to add in the discussion, but this is a new day and age, and evidently from recent studies, you can also now take the ESPN, 24/7 Sports, Rivals, Scout, and all other media outlet recruiting rankings as also the exact unquestioned GOSPEL!!

    • RAGE
      9:16 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Nice post EastKY

    • RAGE
      9:22 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      You hit on some good points… I don’t know about any one else but if Tyler Herro who was the lowest rated recruit on this team according to the so called experts… Then sign me up for more just like him!!!!! I think this was a big get for us and very happy to have him… this is shaping up to be a real nice class

    • bigblue2284
      10:23 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

      good grief eastky, name one player that UK has gotten that is elite since KAT. Wiseman? Nope. Zion? Nope. Carey? Nope. Barrett? Nope. Let’s go back a few years Wiggins ? Nope even after spending years recruiting him.

    • bigbluebanana
      12:04 pm March 16, 2019 Permalink

      We don’t know about Carey or Wiseman, using them to make a point further solidified the shlt you have for brains. Wiggins elite? Brandon Knight was better, Malik Monk, even, was a better college player. Zion? Sure, he’s elite, but he’s really the only player to come out of high school as an “elite” in a long time. Have you watched Barret play? He’s scared and selfish. His entire game is taking on four players at the rim and getting lucky when it goes in. I’d much rather have Herro, and Washington. Why do t you just leave, you’ve joined the ranks of the other miserable folks around here that only bring negativity. You’re points make no sense and exist only to shlt on UK. That’s not a fan thing to do, quite the opposite. But bless your heart for trying.

  7. snarkster
    4:56 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    If PJ, Keldon and Herro jump along with Travis that leaves five (probable) returnees – Hagans, Quickley, Baker, EJ & Richards – plus the four current recruits – Maxey, Allen, Whitney & Brooks (for a total of nine). I could see them adding two more – maybe Todd & McDaniels or a beefy grad transfer (along the lines of Travis & PJ). Don’t really see them adding McDaniels alone because I think Cal will still want another strong rebounder.

    If for some mystifying reason, Ashton & Herro both decided to go, it wouldn’t shock me to see Cal add a grad transfer or reclass guard as well.

  8. Seattlekat
    6:02 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    Brooks was a good get, needs to add weight and strength, but there is more plus than minus in his game. Let Jaden McDaniels go to UDub, watched him play in the WA State Tourney, reminds me of Omma’ Givens, who was another “can’t miss” high school AA. Look him up!! PJ, Keldon, and Travis are gone for sure……could be one or two transfers. I also see us adding a couple more!!

  9. weneedpitino
    10:45 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    It means we should be pretty decent. Go cats!!

  10. bbnfan101
    11:08 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    Like how next years team is coming together. Gonna be long and athletic with multiple shooters on the floor just need another big body inside. If Herro were to come back to pair him with Quickley and maxey in the backcourt that team would have the potential to be one of Cals best but I’m afraid he is gone. Maxey will be a stud.

  11. kjd
    11:33 am March 16, 2019 Permalink

    IMO, you insulted Brooks when comparing him to JV.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      12:43 pm March 16, 2019 Permalink

      Vanderbilt pre-injury was a superstar in the making. One of the most fascinating high school prospects I’ve seen over the last five years.

  12. Big Sexy
    12:53 pm March 16, 2019 Permalink

    Right now I’m worried about our depth in the front court. They need two more big men. They may have no choice but to be a run and gun team.