Kentucky basketball under Mark Pope: Transfer portal news, 2024 roster, recruits, targets from SEC insiders

For just the second time over the last 100 years, a former player will take over the reigns of Kentucky basketball. Mark Pope is the new head coach in Lexington after winning a national championship with the Wildcats in 1996. Pope comes over from BYU and replaces John Calipari, who took his talents to Arkansas. With Calipari’s departure, many of his former players are also planning their exits by entering the college basketball transfer portal, thus making the 2024-25 Kentucky basketball roster one in transition. Calipari annually had some of the top Kentucky basketball recruiting classes, a trend that Pope hopes continue.

Kentucky basketball had the No. 1 recruiting class in 2023, per 247Sports, but Pope may not inherit many of those players due to transferring or the NBA Draft. Calipari infamously didn’t dip much into the transfer portal, an area that Pope could utilize to replenish the Kentucky basketball roster. If you love the Wildcats, or just want the latest roster updates and college basketball transfer portal news, be sure to see what the proven team of insiders are saying at CatsPause, the 247Sports affiliate that covers Kentucky.

The team of insiders at are providing up-to-the-minute scoop on the latest intel surrounding the Kentucky basketball coaching transition and roster changes. CatsPause has built a solid reputation over its 20+ years covering the Wildcats, and has deep-rooted sources inside and around the Kentucky athletic department. And right now, CatsPause is offering 60% off the first year of an annual subscriptions*, so now is the time to sign up.

The team at CatsPause has full coverage of who is coming and who is going on the Kentucky basketball roster. Head to CatsPause now to see all the insider info.

Kentucky basketball roster departures 

In the aftermath of Calipari heading to Arkansas, Kentucky basketball lost a pair of top-six national recruits from last year’s team, Aaron Bradshaw and D.J. Wagner. Both entered the transfer portal, and while Bradshaw has since committed to Ohio State, his high school teammate, Wagner, has options at his disposal, including entering into the NBA Draft. Meanwhile, 7-foot-2 Croatian Zvonimir Ivisic is the first former Wildcat to follow Calipari to Arkansas, and fellow big man Ugonna Onyenso has declared for the NBA Draft.

As for the Class of 2024, Calipari had the second-ranked incoming class, but that is no more. Five-stars Jayden Quaintance and Boogie Fland decommitted from the Wildcats, while four-stars Karter Knox and Somto Cyril also reopened their recruitments. Those impending departures have knocked Kentucky basketball’s Class of 2024 to No. 25 in the country. Two recruits who remain in the class include No. 22 overall prospect Billy Richmond, who went to the same high school as Wagner and Bradshaw, as well as the No. 73 overall recruit, Travis Perry. Join CatsPause to see the latest on all of Kentucky’s roster changes. 

Kentucky basketball news, roster

With eight of the nine leading scorers from last season heading out, all eyes turn to guard Reed Sheppard. The rising sophomore was Kentucky’s third-leading scorer last season at 12.5 points per game. He shot an astounding 52.1% from 3-point range, a mark that led the nation. He’s a projected lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, so there’s a high probability that he’ll go that route. 

However, Sheppard’s family is close with Pope and he might be the one hire that could keep him in Lexington longer. Sheppard is also a Kentucky native who could cash in on NIL opportunities, so his decision will be a critical one for the 2024 roster. 

Jordan Burks, Brennan Canada, Kareem Watkins, Walker Horn, Grant Derbyshire are the other players who, as of now, are expected to return, though none averaged more than 2.0 points per game in 2023-24. Billy Richmond and Travis Perry, the No. 22 and No. 73 players in the nation, according to 247Sports, remain in the 2024 recruiting class for the time being. 

With at least eight scholarships available, Pope will actively look to add to the roster. For example, Pope reportedly has been in contact with TCU transfer JaKobe Coles, and he’ll be looking at all options remaining in the 2024 recruiting class and the portal to be competitive immediately in Lexington. Join CatsPause to get the latest on all of Kentucky’s roster additions. 

How to get insider Kentucky basketball roster updates

Pope could also be bringing at least one big-time BYU player with him, so be sure to join CatsPause to see who that is and get the rest of the insider roster news. 

Who are the top names Kentucky basketball is pursuing under coach Mark Pope, and what former BYU player could land in Lexington? Go to CatsPause to see their insider information, all from a team of reporters with years of experience covering the Wildcats, and find out. And reminder, CatsPause is offering 60% off the first year of an annual VIP membership*, so subscribe now before it’s too late.

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