2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. talks Indiana interest, recruiting

  • 06/01/2017 12:32 pm in

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Five-star small forward Keion Brooks Jr. continued to show why he’s Indiana’s top-ranked player in the class of 2019 last weekend.

The 6-foot-8 wing from Fort Wayne finished the Nike EYBL regular season with averages of 18.2 points 6.8 rebounds (3.2 offensive), and 1.8 assists while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor.

“Playing up a grade, I’ve been able to compete,” Brooks said. “Just going out and doing what I’ve been able to do ever since high school and making that translate.”

Brooks has been consistent throughout the four sessions, reaching double-figures scoring in all but two games. Brooks also showed improvement as the circuit went on, especially with his ball handling and defending.

“I’ve been working on my ball handling a lot, being able to attack defenders off the dribble,” Brooks said. “Also, being able to defend guys that have the same skill set as me, and getting in the weight room and trying to get stronger.”

In the penultimate regular season game for Brooks’ Spiece Indy Heat, the wing scored 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and six assists. For much of the game, Brooks was matched up against class of 2018 wing Louis King, who is ranked in the top-30 of his class by 247sports.

“I pay attention to it,” Brooks said of facing off against highly touted players like King. “It doesn’t really consume me, but I know who I’m matched up with. I try to dominate my matchup every time I go out there.”

As for his recruitment, Brooks, still a sophomore in high school, is taking his time. Some of the schools Brooks says are pursuing him hardest include Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa, Butler, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas and Indiana.

Brooks says his relationship with Indiana has improved since Archie Miller took over the program. Brooks father, Brooks Sr., played at Wright State while now-assistant Ed Schilling was coaching there.

“It’s gotten a lot better since Archie Miller came in,” Brooks said. “He’s been trying to get to as many games as possible, try to stay in contact as much as he can. I really like the way Indiana is handling things.”

Before Brooks enrolls in school in the fall of 2019, he has several goals he’d like to accomplish back in Fort Wayne.

“I want to win a state championship,” Brooks said. “Came close last year, lost by three in the title game. I just want to keep getting better and hopefully can get that state title.”

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  • HoosierHeel

    I want this guy more than any other current recruit. Not just because he has a great game/high ceiling, but because landing the best player in our state, whom we have great, established connections with, is a must to restablish Indiana as THE school for top Indiana guys!

  • Guyton25

    Yeah, I feel the same way. He seems to have a really good head on his shoulders too. Brooks and Phinisee are the only two I care about right now.

  • inLinE6

    We need to get him and Watford together.

  • iugradmark

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. We have quite a few offers out now and they range from 3-5 star players. I could see a couple of the 3 star kids who really believe in what they are hearing from the coaches secure their spot. We have a lot of positions to fill after next year but, as time goes on, there will be less options. I am interested to see which player is the first and which assistant brings one home.

  • pcantidote

    Might be a stretch, but I kind of care about that Romeo guy too ;).

  • Hardwood83

    He could be Archie’s “Cody”. It would be a double bonus to keep him away from Izzo too.

  • TomJameson

    The thing is that Archie has a “type” of player that he needs for his pack-line defense. Tall, athletic forwards that have a long reach and can hustle to protect the perimeter. Can only have so many 60″ to 6’3″ guards.

    13 or so offers for 2018-19 class with currently 6 openings. Would hope we get a big 6’10” or bigger guy in there as well.

    The same old question … What if a couple of those 3 star kids committed really quickly and we lost out on a 5 star because of it, would we be stuck with the lesser talent because of some quick commits?

  • iugradmark

    Archie has talked about how many offers he will put out and his preference is to not throw out tons of offers. He is in a bit of a rebuilding mode and trying to catch up so he may offer more than he will down the road. I also think he is making a statement to in-state players and coaches that he wants Indiana kids on the team. He is late for many of these players and I suspect he knows that he is at best a long-shot but he isn’t going to show he is afraid to offer the top kids.

    I think his word is good when it comes to offers so if some of the 3 star kids accept, he will honor the offers. He and the coaches will have to weigh whether they hold an opening or two to take a late decider or some other opportunity like a key transfer.

  • One of the advantages of the pack line defense for some teams is that it makes up for a lack of athletic players. So while having really athletic forwards is a real plus for any defense, it’s not actually vital for this defense to be effective. Generally, you need a team that plays together and communicates really well, and what you need for perimeter defense is rock-solid fundamentals, like keeping your hands up when you close out on a shooter. This is all based on what I’ve studied so far about the pack line defense, of course, and I’m no expert — but what I think is most important are tough-minded, tenacious players who buy into the idea of playing defense throughout entire possessions.

  • TomJameson

    I don’t think that’s exactly correct Mark, probably depends on your understanding of “athletic”. The pack-line defense counts on aggressively closing out on the perimeter shooter to defend the one biggest weakness to the defense … the three point shot. Tall, quick, long reach, able to close out aggressively without tripping or fouling the offensive player. This all means athletic to me.

    But you are correct in that the pack-line (or “sagging” man-to-man) defense can help a less athletic team compete with a stronger, quicker team, but a more athletic team will be better served. Just because the defense can overcome a weakness, doesn’t mean you want to continue with that weakness.

    As to your “tough-minded, tenacious players who buy into the idea of playing defense”, those type of players are always desired, no matter the defensive scheme. I would consider that a given no matter what.

    Speaking of defense, Mark, I’m neither attacking Archie nor his defensive schemes. Just want to put that out there.

  • Yes, we’re definitely digging into the details here, and both saying the same things. Just like tenacious, tough-minded players are good for any defense, so too are tall, athletic players. I mean, obviously, the more physically gifted and talented the player, the better. I’m just saying that if you were to point out players who were “Archie’s type,” I’d wager that they would tend to first have a particular mindset, i.e., they’d be tough-minded, tenacious, and really want to play defense. Because if there’s one thing that you can’t have in a pack line defense, it’s players who aren’t willing to play tough defense throughout an entire defensive possession. The pack line defense is highly susceptible to the lapse of a single player — if it’s not all five players executing as a unit, then there are significant holes that an offense can exploit.

  • By the way, here’s where we’ll definitely agree, I’ll bet: Archie will get better, more talented, and more physically gifted players than he’s had in the past, and that will make his pack line defense orders of magnitude better. His Dayton teams played really good defense with their level of talent (and tough-minded defensive mentalities). Once he has his players on hand at IU, I wager his IU teams will play truly great defense.

  • TomJameson

    Yes, I know what Archie has said, and I certainly don’t doubt his word. I’m as excited as almost anybody about his becoming the new coach. I agree with your entire 1st paragraph. But your second paragraph sort of mirrors what I said.

    Truthfully, not a lot of players on the “2018 recruiting” link that I don’t like, and I think Jallow and Swider are the only 3-star players on it and I like both of them. My point is that there are 13 (or so) offers out for 5-6 openings. So, there could very well be a point where we get 7-8 verbal commits and be over-committed by two (I think the max limit for verbals).
    Probably all a moot point. You are correct, at some point Arch and staff will have to make decisions. I’m just really glad they can balance things out to what works best for the IU program

  • TomJameson

    I was talking about physical attributes only. I would wager that if somebody displayed anything other than the “correct” mindset, and wanting to play tough defense, that player will be thinking about it on the bench.

    This first year will get better toward the end of the season. My opinion is that we’ll get to the big dance and win two games because of that. But it’s the next year, and the years after that, when the defense will really pay off. That payoff will be because he doesn’t have to teach the whole team, he’ll just have to teach the freshmen, and the rest of the team will be able to help the process.

  • I think that next season will be really impacted by the schedule, and in particular the B1G schedule. I’m hoping the latter isn’t terribly front-loaded, because I agree that we’ll be a much better team at the end of the season than at the beginning. The more wins we can rack up while the players are still learning and improving, the better our record at the end and the better our chances of making the NCAA tournament. And we’ll definitely be that team that nobody wants to play early.

    Honestly, I dig into the weeds like this because what else do we have to talk about right now? 🙂

  • marcusgresham

    I think he’s just ahead of the curve on Swider—I don’t see him remaining as a 3-star when everything is re-evaluated. His stats from the summer tournaments indicate a lot more in the tank than a 3-star kid.

  • TomJameson

    I agree Marcus, Swider is one of those 13 offers that I really hope we get. I think he’s pretty underrated. I would have a pretty tough time to get a wish-list down to 4-5, and an even harder time figuring on who I can do without. 🙂

    I just think it’s going to be an interesting recruiting season for the 2018-19 season.

  • Spooky

    Generally, an offer is just that, an offer. Kids aren’t going to commit on that offer if they’re not getting recruited. Those 3*’s that you mention aren’t going to commit unless they feel wanted. As a 3*, they will have options a’plenty. If we’re busy recruiting better talent, they will most certainly notice that and not commit. Ask yourself: If you were in their shoes, ranked as a 3* D-1 player, would you commit to a college that has offered, but not wanted you or recruited you while having other good-great schools that have invested so much into you and that clearly want you?

  • TomJameson

    Yeah, your explanations really answers why Grant Gelon jumped on his offer, because IU wasn’t recruiting anybody better than him. 🙂

    Come on Spooky, an offer is something that can be said “yes” to at any time, unless it’s a conditional offer. As soon as the coach says to the player that he is extending an offer (again, unconditional) the kid can say yes, without taking a breath.

    I don’t understand what you said about a college making an offer to a player, but wanting or recruiting that player. I don’t think that any coach will make an offer if they don’t want them, at least at that moment. Now the interest can wane on either side as time passes, but my understanding is that Archie has re-confirmed these offers, and pretty sure he didn’t offer to anybody he doesn’t want.

  • iugradmark

    My guess is that the coaching staff isn’t telling prospects that there are 5-6 openings but more like 4. As you and others have commented, He may hold an open slot. The open slot could be used if a late decider 5-star type kid chooses IU, or a transfer that can really help the team becomes available but I think the recruits will be counting down from 4 and not 6 openings to see if there is still room for them on the roster.

  • TomJameson

    Everybody in the world knows there are 5 openings in 2018-19, just with the players that are graduating. Plus Grant Gelon is transferring, so that adds one. Point is, there aren’t any recruits that don’t know what’s available.

    I understand what you are saying, that Archie says to a recruit that even though I have 6 openings for next year, I’m only going to fill 4. To me that would make the lower-rated, or less talented, jump quickly. The highly ranked kids don’t like to commit until later. That just doesn’t make sense.

    But conjecture is what this forum is made of, so it’s fun to debate and think about.

  • Guyton25

    I had him in mind when I wrote that comment. I don’t like his attitude at all and he’s definitely a stretch. He doesn’t seem to care much for IU anyway, which makes me not like him even more.

  • pcantidote

    His attitude? Kid seems like a total class act to me.