The Bruins have open spots on their roster, and they may be looking towards some big names in order to fill them.
UCLA men’s basketball has been in regular contact with Kentucky transfer forward Keion Brooks, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported Friday morning. Brooks is currently in the NBA Draft Pool, but his brother reportedly told Rothstein he is hearing from 16 different schools as potential landing spots should he play his fourth year of college hoops.
The other schools reportedly courting Brooks are Arizona, BYU, DePaul, Florida, Iowa, Kansas State, Maryland, Memphis, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, UNLV and Washington.
Rothstein’s report comes a week after Tracy Pierson of 247Sports’ Bruin Report Online wrote a piece on how the Bruins could target Brooks in the portal.
Brooks was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, according to both 247Sports and Rivals, and he even took an official visit to Westwood back in August 2018. Picking Kentucky over Indiana and North Carolina, Brooks became one of the headliners in coach John Calipari's No. 2-ranked 2019 recruiting class.
Johnny Juzang was also a part of that Kentucky recruiting class, and he wound up transferring to UCLA a few months after arriving in Lexington.
Brooks went to La Lumiere School (IN), a perennially top-ranked high school program that also produced UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell. Brooks and Campbell did not actually overlap at La Lumiere, though, as the former only played there for his senior year.
Once arriving at Kentucky, the 6-foot-7 Brooks became a bench piece for the Wildcats. Brooks averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game his freshman year, appearing in 31 games and starting in six while playing 15.1 minutes a night.
Brooks took a step up in the rotation as a sophomore, despite missing all of nonconference play in the COVID-shortened season. Again picking up a few starts along the way, Brooks averaged 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game.
This past year is when Brooks finally ascended to full-time starter status – being part of the starting five in all 33 of his appearances – and he averaged 10.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for a Kentucky team that finished the regular season 26-7.
For his career, Brooks is a 47.4% shooter from the field and 74.9% shooter from the free throw line. Brooks shoots 23.4% from beyond the arc, but he has only averaged one 3-point attempt per game over the past three seasons.
Based on his statistical production and physical attributes, Brooks would project as a wing-forward for coach Mick Cronin – the position Jaime Jaquez Jr. has played the past few seasons.
Minutes may be hard to come by for any transfer who is interested in the Bruins though. When Cronin talked to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times about next year's outlook, he reportedly laughed off the notion that a transfer would insert himself into the current wing rotation.
Jaquez is guaranteed one of the three starting wing spots, and the other two are projected to go to some combination of Jules Bernard, Jaylen Clark and McDonald's All-American Amari Bailey. Bernard is currently in the NBA Draft Pool alongside Brooks, but after both of them were passed over for NBA Draft Combine invites following standout performances at the G League Elite Camp, they could both very likely return to the NCAA.
There are also bench pieces David Singleton and Will McClendon, who is already back on the court following the surgery he underwent last fall to repair his torn ACL.
So with a full starting lineup, a sixth man and two role players already in-house on the wing, playing time and a concrete role may be hard to promise a transfer of Brooks' caliber who just started 30-plus games for a 26-win blue blood in the SEC.
Still, UCLA is keeping its eye on Brooks, who could be a major contributor in a new role if he were to make the move out to Westwood for next season.