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Koby Brea had dreams of being a Wildcat: "Kentucky is Kentucky"

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim06/19/24

It’s hard to come up with a better list of finalists than what Koby Brea put together out of the transfer portal — an all-blue-blood group of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and UConn. That caliber of interest tends to flock when you’re the best 3-point shooter in college basketball, knocking down 49.8 percent of his threes on 6.1 attempts per game.

With the best of the best calling, it was Mark Pope and the Wildcats ultimately pulling off the win, giving Kentucky its marksman for 2024-25. And his new head coach was over the moon once pen hit paper.

“By the numbers, Koby Brea is the most efficient mid-to-high major player in college basketball in the last decade,” Pope announced at the time. “He’s the best returning shooter in college basketball next year. Koby is a dangerous, dangerous man.”

Why Kentucky?

It’s easy to see why Pope was interested, but what led Brea to Lexington? Kentucky’s pursuit of No. 9, the Dayton transfer hoping to spend his last season of eligibility fighting for a national championship.

“I was just looking for a program that was going to be able to compete for a championship. That’s my biggest thing, I wanted to be able to win this last year,” Brea said. “Coach Pope is an amazing coach, an amazing coaching staff. Their system really complements the way I play. On top of everything, Kentucky is Kentucky, man. Since I was little — I’m from New York, I’ve always dreamt about coming here. It was a great opportunity for me.”

More on the system, one that prioritizes spacing and shooting — a match made in heaven for a player like Brea. Pope and his staff put together a film package during their pursuit of the sharpshooter, highlighting how Brea would be used and the types of looks he’d get in Lexington. On the other end, the star transfer did his own research on Pope’s offense at BYU and singled out Kentucky as a clear fit, as well.

It didn’t take long for a commitment to come together from there.

“I watched film on them and they showed me film on their own, as well. It’s good to see it visually, how you’re gonna be in that system,” he said. “Everything they do for shooters, it’s really good. I can’t wait to be put in there and continue to do what I do.”

The best shooter in a decade

What was it like to go through the recruiting process as the best shooter in the portal, Pope describing him as the most efficient the game has seen in a decade? Does his head get big thinking of that praise and what he’s accomplished up to this point in college?

“Not at all, man. I try to stay as humble as possible,” Brea told KSR. “It’s a blessing for me and my family to be up there, but there is more work to be done. I’m looking forward to what is to come.”

What is the secret to his success? How did he become what he is as a shooter and what can fans expect from him in his one-and-done season in Lexington as a Wildcat?

“It’s just the level of reps I put in, the hard worker that I am and the confidence I’ve built over the years,” he added. “It all goes back to when I was a little kid, just trying to shoot the ball as high as I could when I couldn’t reach it. It just took more and more practice to do it at this level. Now I hope to do it at another level, as well.”

First impressions as a Wildcat

Brea is officially on campus, moved in and practicing with his new team while meeting with Big Blue Nation for the first time — he was there for the Father/Son and Daughter Camps, along with Club Blue’s NEW ERA event in Lexington this weekend. Those dreams he had growing up of playing at Kentucky are now a reality.

His first impressions? It’s been everything he’s hoped for and more.

“It’s a dream come true, if I’m being honest, man. Just to be in an environment where you get to see so much love and so much support from Big Blue Nation,” Brea said. “You see what this is all about, what you represent. Every time I put on that jersey, I know it’s bigger than me. It’s about all these other people.”

Leading by example

Expectations are high for Brea on Kentucky’s side, as well, the coin-flip shooter coming in as a fifth-year, one of seven super seniors on the roster. This team needs the Washington Heights, NY native to come in and lead by example, specifically as a threat from beyond the arc.

From his perspective, that’s what makes this group special. He’s one of many pieces of the puzzle with experience, a necessity in today’s game. With him doing his part, along with everyone else doing the same, the potential is there for big results.

“Experience is everything, basketball and every sport — especially in college,” Brea said. “When you have so many people who have been in college, March Madness and really big games, we all have that. And we have freshmen who will be able to help us along the way.

“I feel like we’ll be a really good team.”

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