By LARRY VAUGHT
Keion Brooks Jr. has an interesting perspective on how to grade his play after his first 14 games at the University of Kentucky.
“As long as I can look in the mirror at the end of the game and say that I gave it everything I got, I was locked in and played with a lot of energy,” Brooks answered when asked how he grades his own play. “That’s all I really care about at the end of the day.
“Sometimes just being out there, playing hard and having energy, you’ll be able to fill up the box score because you have energy, playing hard, but some nights it’s not like that. But as long as you’re going out there, playing hard and just trying to make the right play every time, I can live with that.”
Brooks is averaging 5.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 17.4 minutes per game. He’s shooting 45 percent overall from the field but just 21 percent (3-for-14) from 3-point range.
Brooks says it has not been hard to be patient because of his approach.
“I’m able to self-analyze and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘if I’m doing the right things on the floor, obviously, I would get more playing time and if not, I would be selfish to think I should be playing more.’ So, it’s not difficult for me at all to be able to look in the mirror and see what’s going on,” Brooks said.
Brooks’ biggest plus so far has been his intensity and passion. He’s one player coach John Calipari has not had to push to play hard even though Calipari would like him to rebound better and play better defense.
“You definitely try to look back and replicate what your mindset was that game (you played well), to get back to that, to be able to play free and not worry about what’s going on on offense and not put so much pressure on yourself to score the ball or anything like that,” Brooks said.
“Like that game (against Georgia Tech), I was just focused on playing hard, playing defense and rebounding the ball. And because of that, I was able to score a little bit more than I usually do. So that’s a game I look back at all the time.”
Brooks had 10 points in that win over Georgia Tech and has shown flashes of solid offense but says just handling the daily grind has been his biggest hurdle to overcome, not his offense.
“Cal is not letting up. He’s pushing you to get better every single day and sometimes that’s hard,” Brooks said. “Just the grind of everything, every day, repetitively. But that’s what I came here for, so I’m not going to sit here and complain about it.”