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John Calipari rooting for Brooks to finish strong at Washington; Tshiebwe rejoins team in Lexington

Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

John Calipari is rooting for Keion Brooks to finish his collegiate career on a high note at Washington next season.

Brooks announced his plans to transfer to Washington after he withdrew from the NBA Draft.

Keion Brooks fires against LSU. (Photo by Mike Cyrus, Kentucky Today)

“Keion gave his best to our program, was loyal, improved every year and was a great teammate,” Calipari said. “I have great respect for Washington and will be rooting for them and Keion — unless we have to play them.”

In addition to Washington, several programs showed an interest in Brooks, including Ohio State, Maryland, UCLA, Arizona, Notre Dame, Iowa, Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina, BYU, DePaul, UNLV, Nebraska, Kansas State and Memphis.

Following Kentucky’s loss to Saint Peter’s in the NCAA Tournament, Brooks reflected on his three-year career with the Wildcats.

“My tenure here has been a little funky and difficult, a little different, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Brooks said at the time. “Coming here, I’ve learned a lot beyond being a basketball player, but Coach Cal has done a great job of shaping me into a better man and, that being said, I don’t regret anything that I’ve been through as long as I’ve been here.”

Brooks averaged 10.8 points and 4.4 rebounds for the Wildcats last season and poured in 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Kentucky’s upset of eventual national champion Kansas last January in Lawrence.

Tshiebwe Returns

Kentucky forward and reigning College Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returned from Congo and joined the rest of his teammates on Tuesday.

“That means our whole team is here,” Calipari said. “I am so excited to work with this group and I know how excited Big Blue Nation is to see them because they’re telling me we’ve already sold as many Bahamas tickets in less than a week than we did in 2018.”

The Wildcats will play four games in seven days Aug. 8-14 at the Baha Mar Resport in Nassau. Kentucky will take on the Dominican Republic U22 National team on Aug. 10, followed by Mexico Monterey Tech (Aug. 11), Carlton University of Canada on Aug. 13 and the Bahamas National Team on Aug. 14.

“It’s always been important to me that our foreign trip be somewhere close, rather than somewhere in Europe, so it’s easier for our fans to join us and see how special these young men are,” he said. “(I’m) looking forward to it again this year.”

Keith Taylor is the sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.

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