By LARRY VAUGHT
Almost as soon as it became clear Keion Brooks Jr. would be the only returning player who had played in a game for coach John Calipari at Kentucky, expectations for the sophomore started to rise.
Maybe it was the way he played at the end of the season. Maybe it’s just Kentucky fans hoping he will be dramatically improved because they understand coach John Calipari needs an experienced player he can trust to lead younger players.
County ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg among those who believe Brooks could have a breakout season even with the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class coming to Kentucky.
“I really like Brooks,” Greenberg said. “I thought his breakthrough moment … and better understanding of what Cal wanted … was that last game at Florida and John called his number late. John saw the light bulb go on and rewarded the kid and he made a play.”
Greenberg knows Brooks — and teammates — are missing “valuable” gym time, weight room workouts, conditioning and skill development now due to COVID-19 restrictions that could be gradually ending soon.
“I still think Brooks will be terrific. I think he will be huge next season,” Greenberg said. “He could have PJ (Washington) type of year.”
The ESPN analyst is meaning the Washington sophomore year when he became one of the nation’s best players. He moved up to the first round of the NBA draft and was having a terrific rookie season when NBA play was halted. Greenberg sees Brooks having the same type impact on the Cats next year.
“He’s got good length,” Greenberg said. “He’s developed a good feel for the game. He’s shown he’s willing to score around the basket and now he knows what is expected of him.”