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Kentucky Hires Kenny Brooks as Head of Women’s Program

Brooks has totaled 11 conference championships at James Madison and Virginia Tech

LEXINGTON – March 26, 2024

Kenny Brooks, who took Virginia Tech to the 2023 NCAA Final Four and won the 2024 Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship, has been named the ninth head coach of the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program, it was announced by UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart on Tuesday.

Boasting a 517-204 (.717) career record through 22 seasons as a head coach, Brooks has compiled five Colonial Athletic Association Tournament titles, four CAA regular-season titles, one ACC Tournament title, one ACC regular-season title, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and one Final Four.

Brooks arrives in Lexington after serving eight seasons as the head coach at Virginia Tech. Under his guidance, the Hokies enjoyed eight consecutive winning seasons (2017-24) and made four straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament (2021-24). He also produced a record amount of ACC win totals, ranked wins and postseason accolades in that time.

Most recently, Virginia Tech is coming off the program’s first ACC regular-season championship and a four seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2024. Just a season before that, he led Tech to the program’s first ACC Tournament title and earned a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. That same season, the Hokies defeated Chattanooga, South Dakota State, Tennessee and Ohio State to advance to the program’s first Final Four.

“We are extremely excited to bring Kenny Brooks to the University of Kentucky,” Barnhart said.  “Kenny has a strong history of player development and championship performance at James Madison and Virginia Tech.  When you combine his coaching excellence with his vision for this program and his passion to take us there, he is ideally suited to be head coach of the Wildcats.  We are eager to introduce Kenny, (wife) Chrissy and their family to the Big Blue Nation!”

“I am thrilled to be named the head coach of the Kentucky women’s basketball program,” Brooks said. “From the Big Blue Nation and the stunning landscape of the Bluegrass State to the UK Athletics brand and getting to compete in the Southeastern Conference, my family and I are excited about this new chapter in our lives. I want to thank Virginia Tech for the most joyful journey of my coaching career, and to the University of Kentucky and UK Athletics administration for this new opportunity. I don’t plan on wasting any time building a positive atmosphere, winning environment and a persistent program that Big Blue Nation can be proud of.”

Student-athletes have thrived under Brooks’ leadership.

Elizabeth Kitley, an All-America center at Virginia Tech (2020-24), became the program’s first 2,000-point scorer, while she also ranks first in program history in field goals, blocks and double-doubles. She was a three-time ACC Player of the Year, three-time Kay Yow Scholar-Athlete of the Year and three-time Associated Press All-American. Kitley was the first Hokie to hold those titles, in addition to being a four-time All-ACC First Team selection and two-time All-Defensive Team selection.

In addition, Georgia Amoore, an All-ACC point guard at Virginia Tech (2021-24), won the 2023 ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player honor and went on to become the NCAA Tournament’s Seattle Region Most Outstanding Player. Altogether, she is a two-time All-ACC First Team selection and has two All-America honorable mentions. In 2022-23, Amoore set a single-season program record for 3-point field goals (116), which ranked second in the nation at the time.

In 2022-23, Brooks’ seventh season at Virginia Tech, there were numerous milestones and program bests. The Hokies went 14-4 in ACC action to earn a coveted double bye in the ACC Tournament. That season, Virginia Tech went 16-1 at home with the lone loss coming to a top-five team, while Tech defeated eight ranked teams, a single-season program record.

Brooks, a Waynesboro, Virginia, native, was a finalist for the 2023 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year honor after achieving a slew of program firsts, including the first 30-win season (31). 

In 2021-22, the Hokies set a program record with 13 ACC wins and five ranked wins. The squad also advanced to the ACC Tournament semifinals for the first time ever. During the season, Brooks won his 450th career game at No. 16 Duke, 65-54, earning a sweep of the Blue Devils for the first time in program history.

Brooks recruited and developed All-ACC guard Aisha Sheppard, who graduated as the program’s all-time leader in points at the time (1,883) and the ACC’s leader in career 3-point field goals (402) in 2022. She earned three All-ACC awards and earned Associated Press All-America honorable mention accolades in 2021. At the time, she owned the top three single-season 3-point field goal totals in program history and played in the most games and most minutes of any player in program history.
To begin his tenure, Brooks and the Hokies reeled off 15 straight wins to open the season in 2016-17, Virginia Tech’s strongest start to a season in 18 years. Behind that strong start, Tech climbed to as high as No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25.

Brooks ushered in a new era of up-tempo basketball at Virginia Tech, as his Hokies reset the team scoring record in each of his first two seasons in Blacksburg, as well as reset the mark for 3-point field goals made in each of those seasons.

Brooks’ tenure has seen numerous players score 1,000 career points, including forward Regan Magarity who also became the program’s all-time leading rebounder at the time during the 2018 WNIT run. Magarity set the ACC record with 1,299 career rebounds. 

Brooks joined Virginia Tech after an impressive 14-season stint as head coach at James Madison University, where he compiled a record of 337-122 (.756), which made him the winningest coach in school history. Brooks guided the Dukes to 11 consecutive postseason appearances, including six NCAA bids and five trips to the WNIT. During his final three seasons in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Brooks and the Dukes compiled an impressive 60-3 record in conference action.

He was named CAA Coach of the Year for a fourth time in 2015-16, while his student-athletes also garnered CAA Player and Rookie of the Year honors.

Brooks registered winning campaigns in 13 of his 14 seasons in Harrisonburg, ascending to No. 23 in the AP Poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll in 2014-15, as his squad tied a school record with 29 wins. In 2013-14, he led the Dukes to their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1991, when his 11th-seeded Dukes knocked off sixth-seeded Gonzaga, 72-63, in the first round. In 2007, the Dukes earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, marking only the second time a CAA team had received an at-large berth.

The Waynesboro, Virginia, native has coached seven WNBA Draft picks in his tenure; first-rounder Tamera Young, as well as Lauren Okafor, Jazmon Gwathmey, Regan Magarity, Aisha Sheppard, Kayana Traylor and Taylor Soule. Sheppard and Traylor were selected 23rd in consecutive drafts, the highest picks ever in program history and Traylor and Soule became the first two student-athletes from Virginia Tech to be selected in the same WNBA Draft.

A 1992 graduate of James Madison, Brooks played for three seasons under coach Lefty Driesell and made two NIT appearances, while also earning a degree in business management. He began his coaching career as a part-time assistant for the 1993-94 JMU men’s squad that won the CAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Then, after four seasons as an assistant for the men’s program at Virginia Military Institute (1994-98), he moved back to his alma mater as a men’s assistant from 1998-2002. He was named interim women’s head coach on Dec. 6, 2002 before taking over those duties on a full-time basis on March 21, 2003.

Brooks and his wife, Chrissy, have four children, Kendyl, Chloe, Gabby and Nicholas.

Kenny Brooks’ record as a head coach:

SeasonSchoolOverallConf.Conf. FinishPostseason
2005-06JMU24-714-42ndWNIT First Round
2006-07JMU27-616-22ndNCAA First Round
2007-08JMU24-1014-42ndWNTT Quarterfinals
2008-09JMU24-1014-43rdWNIT Second Round
2009-10JMU26-713-52nd – CAA Tournament ChampionsNCAA First Round
2010-11JMU26-816-21st – CAA Tournament ChampionsNCAA First Round
2011-12JMU29-814-42ndWNIT Runner Up
2012-13JMU25-1115-32ndWNIT Quarterfinals
2013-14JMU29-615-11st – CAA Tournament ChampionsNCAA Second Round
2014-15JMU29-417-11st – CAA Tournament ChampionsNCAA First Round
2015-16JMU27-617-11st – CAA Tournament ChampionsNCAA First Round
2016-17Virginia Tech20-144-12T11thWNIT Quarterfinals
2017-18Virginia Tech23-146-10T9thWNIT Runner UP
2018-19Virginia Tech22-126-1010thWNIT Third Round
2019-20Virginia Tech21-911-7T4thPostseason canceled
2020-21Virginia Tech15-108-87thNCAA Second Round
2021-22Virginia Tech23-1013-5T3rdNCAA First Round
2022-23Virginia Tech31-514-4T2nd – ACC Tournament ChampionsNCAA Final Four
2023-24Virginia Tech25-814-41stNCAA Second Round
 Record at JMU337-121 (.736) – 193-56 (.775)  
 Record at VT180-82 (.687) – 76-60 (.559)  
 Overall Record517-204 (.717) – 269-116 (.698)  

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