Kentucky RELOADED: Kenny Brooks Aims To Rebuild The Wildcats

WHN | Apr 25, 2024

LEXINGTON, KY — Kenny Brooks is the 9th head coach in the history of the University of Kentucky Women’s Basketball…

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LEXINGTON, KY — Kenny Brooks is the 9th head coach in the history of the University of Kentucky Women’s Basketball program. Rumors surfaced during the NCAA tournament that he might have interviewed for the position, but when questioned about it during a press conference, Brooks made sure to keep the focus on the Hokies. Fast forward one month, and now he’s a Wildcat.

“I was not actively seeking to leave Virginia Tech. The opportunity arose, and I felt it was the right move for me and my family.”

Brooks guided the Hokies to the Final Four in 2023 and helped secure the ACC regular season title. While the playing style in the Atlantic Coast Conference may differ from that of the Southeastern Conference, known for its robust defense and dynamic rebounding, Brooks acknowledges the challenge of transitioning into a new conference with new players. Nevertheless, he emphasizes his commitment to hard work for both himself and his team.

“We’re going to revamp our approach, and we’re going to fight. We recognize that we’re entering a highly competitive conference.”

Just one month after assuming the head coaching position, Brooks has already made significant strides. He has assembled a new coaching staff, including former ACC Assistant Coach Josh Petersen from the University of Miami, and his former Virginia Tech Assistant, Radville Autukaite. In addition to reshaping his coaching staff, Brooks has recruited new talent and secured promising transfers.

“We have some fresh talent joining us, and we’re identifying players who align with our vision. While reshaping your roster within a year can yield success, it’s not the sole recipe for achievement.”

Coach Brooks is poised to lead a formidable lineup, boasting former Hokies Georgia Amoore and Clara Strack, along with former Tarheel Teonni Key and newcomer 6’7″ signee Clara Silva. Coupled with the existing talent on the Wildcats’ roster, the team is primed for stiff competition in the upcoming season. Brooks emphasizes that he has communicated with returning players about a “culture shift” and outlines his expectations for their dedication and hard work.

“What they endured last year was undoubtedly challenging. We’re starting afresh. If you’re unwilling to make sacrifices and put in the hard work, you’ll find it tough here.”

Brooks seeks to foster support beyond the players and coaching staff, actively engaging with the community by attending spring football games, baseball and softball events, and frequenting local restaurants. He emphasizes the importance of connecting with fans and revitalizing attendance at the arena. The Wildcats have ranked at the bottom in attendance among Division I programs over the past two seasons, a trend Brooks aims to reverse.

“I’ll collaborate with Coach Pope of the Kentucky Men’s Basketball team to enhance both programs’ success. The fan base seeks positivity from both teams and anticipates a new era.”

Beyond coaching, Brooks is a vocal advocate for women’s basketball, highlighting the sport’s consistent growth and the need for leaders to adapt it for new fans and players. He aims to capitalize on the record-breaking viewership numbers from this season’s Final Four and Championship games.

“I chose to coach women’s basketball after spending a decade in men’s basketball. Making the transition to the women’s game was a personal goal of mine, and I have always cherished it.”

The Wildcats concluded last season with a 4-12 conference record and a 12-20 overall record. Brooks is determined to improve upon these results but remains pragmatic about setting goals for himself and his players. Recognizing the formidable competition within the SEC, he refrains from setting specific numerical targets, instead emphasizing the importance of giving their best effort in every game.

“We won’t overhaul everything, but we aim to make a significant impact in the SEC and see how it unfolds.”

Brandolyn Hellams is a journalist and producer in Atlanta, who covers sports and entertainment.

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