New Kentucky WBB head coach Kenny Brooks eager to pick John Calipari's brain

On3 imageby:Zack Geoghegan03/30/24


Kenny Brooks, the new head coach of Kentucky women’s basketball, has experienced more than most in his 30-plus years of coaching at the Divison I level — 21 of those years coming as a head coach. He actually got his start as an assistant on the men’s side for VMI before jumping to James Madison, his alma mater, for a few seasons.

He moved over to the women’s game beginning in 2002, remaining at James Madison as an assistant, before taking control as head coach in 2003. Since then, he’s led the Dukes (2003-16) and then Virginia Tech (2016-24) to a combined 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four with the Hokies in 2023.

Brooks has certainly learned a lot throughout his career, but one person he hadn’t run into along his way was Kentucky men’s basketball head coach and Hall of Famer, John Calipari. Brooks is even close with a couple of Calipari’s assistants, Bruiser Flint and Orlando Antigua specifically, but never met Calipari face-to-face until Thursday afternoon, just hours before his introductory press conference.

“Coach Cal, it’s the first time I ever met Coach Cal,” Brooks said during his press conference. “I used to be an assistant coach on the men’s side for 10 years and so I know Bruiser Flint extremely well, I know Orlando (Antigua), I know those guys. So it’s good catching up with them.”

Brooks wasn’t shy about addressing the elephant in the room when asked about Calipari either. After another early exit from the NCAA Tournament earlier this month, tensions between Calipari and the fan base started to boil over. Some of that has been smoothed out as time has passed, but regardless, Brooks isn’t going to ignore what Calipari has done for Kentucky and as a head coach in general.

The two can share ideas and help each other improve, which is what Brooks hopes to accomplish over the coming years working in the same building as Calipari.

“I’m going to lean on him,” Brooks said of Calipari. “And we do have newspapers everywhere, I know there’s been a lot going on with Coach Cal and his situation but he’s one of the best, one of the best in the country and I’m looking forward to picking his brain. Anything and everything about Kentucky Basketball.

Because when we talk Kentucky basketball, it’s an umbrella that you want to be under. It’s a brand and I’m looking forward to capitalizing on it. Any sport that we are successful in here at Kentucky, you want to piggyback off of that. Because, just great, great exposure. I’m looking forward to that. Coach Cal, it was a brief discussion, introduction and I’m looking forward to picking his brain more.”

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