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Keion Brooks Jr. is the final piece to Indiana basketball’s recruiting puzzle

Five star forward Keion Brooks Jr. warms up before La Lumiere’s game against Center Grove on Saturday December 8. Brooks Jr. is considering Indiana as one of his top schools (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Just over a week after five-star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis committed to Indiana, he went toe-to-toe against another five-star forward and potential future college teammate in Keion Brooks Jr.

The game between Jackson-Davis’ Center Grove squad and Brooks’ La Lumiere team was fast-paced, physical, and a joy to watch. La Lumiere’s loaded roster of division-1 bound athletes took over in the fourth quarter and earned a 62-48 Laker victory, but the game was quite competitive, being tied at halftime and a one-possession game for most of the match-up.

Five-star prospect Keion Brooks Jr. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

At the end of the day though, this was a showcase of premier talent more than anything. Jackson-Davis finished with 18 points, while Brooks put up 22 points in front of a multitude of high profile college coaches, including Archie Miller.

“Coach Miller gives his players the freedom to make plays and run the floor,” Brooks Jr. said. “I was watching the game today against Louisville, I was really paying attention to how everybody was making plays and he gave them the freedom. Somebody made a mistake, he wasn’t dogging them or taking them out. He lets you play through your mistakes, and I really like a coach that does things like that.”

The Fort Wayne native cut his laundry list of scholarship offers to six schools back in September: Indiana, UCLA, North Carolina, Kentucky, Purdue, and Michigan State.

Michigan State head coach, Tom Izzo, and Kentucky head coach, John Calipari, were also present. Izzo and Calipari made long trips out to the south side of Indianapolis just to watch Brooks Jr., flying in from Florida and New York City, respectively, after having games earlier in the day. Their effort certainly made an impression on Brooks Jr. too.

“That means that they’re showing me I’m a priority and want me to be part of their program,” Brooks Jr. said of the coaches. “Especially coach Izzo and coach Cal coming all the way out here after just having a game.”

Brooks Jr., the No. 22 ranked prospect in the 2019 class, proved his high-profile status in a variety of ways Saturday night. His overall build being at 6-foot-7 and 185 pounds, gives great size as a small forward and his tremendous length helps in that as well.

He was a nightmare on defense for Center Grove with a couple huge rejections and an overall pest to whoever he was guarding, sticking with his man and not allowing any space to drive.

Offensively, Brooks Jr. showed the ability to slash to the rim, easily convert at the charity stripe, and arguably his best offensive asset, the mid-range jumper.

Brooks Jr.’s upper body strength looked better than past seasons too, looking quite stronger when driving to the bucket.

“You know this move to La Lu has helped me a lot,” Brooks Jr. said. “I’ve put on about 20 pounds of good muscle, but I still think I can get stronger, especially in my lower body.”

Both Jackson-Davis and Brooks Jr. put on a show and looked like future NBA players. The chance of the duo being future teammates, and future Hoosiers is looking very real.

Jackson-Davis’ commitment a week ago no doubt boosts the chance of Brooks Jr., following in his footsteps and the decision could be coming soon.

“I think things are starting to slow down for me,” Brooks Jr. said. “I can see myself making a decision within a month or so.”

After his junior season at Fort Wayne North, Brooks Jr. played for the Spiece Indy Heat on the Nike EYBL AAU circuit before transferring to La Lumiere. Jackson-Davis was one of his teammates on the AAU circuit and the two grew a close bond as well as a dynamic chemistry on the court with one another.

“I value Trayce as what he is, a great person and great player,” Brooks Jr. said. “We’ve grown very close over this time playing together.”

The two talk every day and Jackson-Davis is often in his ear about coming to IU. They even took their official visit to Indiana together on September 29, for Hoosier Hysteria.

Jackson-Davis was a rumored IU-lean for a long time, Brooks Jr.’s recruitment is a little more of a mystery though, and one that definitely doesn’t lack competition.

Keion Brooks Jr. warms up Saturday night before his game. The high caliber prospect dropped 22 points over Tryace Jackson-Davis and Center Grove (Kurt Spitler/HN)

As the top prospect indicated, a decision is coming sooner or later and there might be one more visit left. It is still a possibility to officially visit Michigan State after already having officially visited UCLA, Indiana, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

If Miller were to land Brooks Jr. it would likely complete the 2019 recruiting class with three members, Jackson-Davis, and 3-star combo guard, Armaan Franklin. With all three of the players being in-state kids, it would only further Miller’s mission to lock down the state as his own backyard and fertile recruiting ground.

Wherever Brooks Jr. goes, it’ll be more than just a basketball decision.

“Somewhere where I have a very good relationship with the head coach and assistants. Somewhere I can see myself thriving on and off the floor, of course basketball is something I really want to do, I want to take it as far as I can. At the same time, I want to be able branch out and venture in things outside of basketball.”

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