John Calipari reacts to Keion Brooks being cleared to play against Florida Basketball


Kentucky Wildcats forward Keion Brooks Jr. has been medically cleared to return to competition after missing the first nine games of the season with a left leg injury, the school said Thursday.

The sophomore will be in uniform on Saturday against the Florida Gators and will be available to play for the 3-6 Wildcats, who have won back-to-back wins and may be ready to make another run for an SEC title now that Brooks is back.

Although Brooks had conditioned and participated with the team in non-contact drills, Thursday was his first full practice since the injury.

Head coach John Calipari subsequently released a statement about Brooks returning to the pitch.

“I met him today and it was a little emotional,” said Britain’s head coach John Calipari. “We’ve all been patient with it, but obviously we all wanted Keion to be with us, no one more than him. Now he is.

“Here’s the kind of person and teammate Keion is: when he and I talked about how he would fit into what we do as a team, his comment was, ‘Coach, I really trust you. I will do whatever this team needs from me. A pretty amazing thing when you think about it is someone who came back as the leader of our team and the only one who played a few minutes with us a season ago. All that matters to Keion is trying to help this team win.

Brooks averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 31 games (six starts) as a rookie in 2019-20. He shot 47.2% from the field to accompany 13 blocks and 11 interceptions. He has played five double-digit games, including his last game of the season in Florida.

In a career-high 27 minutes, Brooks scored 10 points, including seven in the second half to help Kentucky rally 17 in Gainesville to beat the Gators 71-70.

The next edition of Kentucky vs Florida is Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN. The Cats have won four straight games in the series and will be looking to win three in a row in Gainesville for the first time since 2002-04.

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