Washington forward Keion Brooks Jr. shoots against Stanford forward Maxime Raynaud during the second half of a game Jan. 12 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Washington forward Keion Brooks Jr. shoots against Stanford forward Maxime Raynaud during the second half of a game Jan. 12 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Keion Brooks Jr. says he is returning to Huskies

The UW men get needed good news as their leading scorer announces he will be back for another season.

By Percy Allen / The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — With the help of Husky legend Brandon Roy, Keion Brooks Jr. filmed a video announcing his return to the Washington men’s basketball team.

Soliciting the former UW star indicates Brooks, a senior forward who transferred from Kentucky last year, will no doubt attempt to create a legacy at Montlake that will be remembered fondly after he leaves.

In a 66-second clip spliced with Husky highlights from both players, Roy asks: “What are you working towards? How do you want to be remembered?

“Take a look inside yourself. Can you accept the challenge? Do you have what it takes? Leave no doubt. It’s not going to come easy. Nothing comes easy. Are you willing to put in the time? Are you willing to put in the effort? What are you willing to sacrifice? Just ask yourself, are you ready?

Brooks ends the video with two words: “I’m back.”

Securing their leading scorer was a major achievement for Washington, which lost second-leading scorer Keyon Menifield to Arkansas last week.

Brooks is one of five Huskies to return from last season’s team that finished 16-18 and tied for eighth in the Pac-12 at 8-12, including point guard Koren Johnson, centers Braxton Meah and Franck Kepnang and forward Samuel Ariyibi.

Washington is also bringing in Portland transfer Moses Wood and Fresno State transfer Anthony Holland as well as four-star recruit Wesley Yates III and Seattle Prep prospect Christian King, who is expected to sign with UW.

The Huskies lost eight players — seven who entered the NCAA transfer portal — but retaining Brooks was the No. 1 priority considering the All-Pac-12 second-team pick led UW in points (17.7), was second in rebounding (6.7) and third in blocks (1.2).

It was a breakout season for the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Fort Wayne, Ind., native who spent the previous three seasons at Kentucky where he was a part-time starter and role player who averaged 8.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks and 20.7 minutes.

Still, it was uncertain if the 22-year-old Brooks wanted to turn pro or return for a fifth season that was made possible because of the NCAA’s COVID-19 waiver.

“I don’t know what’s next for me, per se,” Brooks said March 8 after Washington’s season-ending loss in the Pac-12 tournament. “I just want to first of all, thank (the Huskies) for bringing me in and giving me an opportunity to showcase what I could really do.”

Coach Mike Hopkins believes Brooks, who finished third in the Pac-12 scoring race last season, should be considered one of the preseason favorites for the league’s player of the year award.

Hopkins also thinks another year at UW will allow Brooks to improve his perimeter shot and ball handling. Last season, he shot 28.6% on three-pointers (32 of 112) and led the Pac-12 with 3.2 turnovers per game.

“To me, that’s just him getting comfortable with being double-teamed,” Hopkins said. “Teams load up on him. They come from everywhere. He’s seeing things that he hasn’t seen since high school.

“But it’s also on us to put him in better spots where the can be effective. … You still want to put your best player in places and let them go to work, but the ball has to move. And in that last game, he did a better job of identifying the double and passing out of it.”

Despite the loss of Menifield, the Huskies appear to have improved a lineup that likely includes Johnson and Yates in the backcourt, Brooks and Wood at forward and Meah at center with Holland, Kepnang and possibly King in the rotation.

Conceivably, UW still needs to add a point guard, center and wing to shore up the reserves. Washington has nine players on the roster and the NCAA limit is 13.

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