Home US SportsNCAAB How does Kentucky basketball coach Mark Pope’s first transfer haul stack up in the SEC?

How does Kentucky basketball coach Mark Pope’s first transfer haul stack up in the SEC?

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LEXINGTON — With every scholarship player from Kentucky basketball‘s 2023-24 roster departing (for either the NBA or a new college home), new coach Mark Pope had to rebuild in a hurry. And he did so the way nearly every program does in the modern game: via the transfer portal.

As of May 22, eight of the Wildcats‘ 11 new players are transfers, joining 2024 prospects Travis Perry and fellow Kentuckian Trent Noah along with Collin Chandler, who formerly signed at BYU, where Pope coached the last five seasons. And Pope might not be done, as UK still is actively recruiting players with two scholarships available for the 2024-25 roster.

Here’s a breakdown of the Wildcats’ transfer portal transactions so far — who they’ve added, who they’ve lost and how they stack up with the rest of the SEC heading into Pope’s debut campaign in Lexington:

Who are the players Kentucky basketball has signed out of the transfer portal?

In this file photo, Dayton guard Koby Brea (4) shoots against Virginia Commonwealth forward Christian Fermin (21) during the second half of a game at University of Dayton Arena on March 8. Brea will play for new coach Mark Pope and Kentucky during the 2024-25 season.

In this file photo, Dayton guard Koby Brea (4) shoots against Virginia Commonwealth forward Christian Fermin (21) during the second half of a game at University of Dayton Arena on March 8. Brea will play for new coach Mark Pope and Kentucky during the 2024-25 season.

UK has eight transfers set to be part of the 2024-25 roster: Ansley Almonor (Fairleigh Dickinson), Koby Brea (Dayton), Lamont Butler (San Diego State), Andrew Carr (Wake Forest), Brandon Garrison (Oklahoma State), Kerr Kriisa (West Virginia), Otega Oweh (Oklahoma) and Amari Williams (Drexel).

Positionally, Brea, Butler, Kriisa and Oweh are guards, Almonor, Carr and Williams are forwards and Garrison is a center.

How highly regarded are Kentucky basketball’s incoming transfers?

Baylor guard RayJ Dennis (10) tries to get around Oklahoma State center Brandon Garrison (23) during overtime at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Jan. 6. Garrison is the highest-ranked transfer to commit to play for Kentucky next season, according to 247Sports.Baylor guard RayJ Dennis (10) tries to get around Oklahoma State center Brandon Garrison (23) during overtime at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Jan. 6. Garrison is the highest-ranked transfer to commit to play for Kentucky next season, according to 247Sports.

Baylor guard RayJ Dennis (10) tries to get around Oklahoma State center Brandon Garrison (23) during overtime at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Jan. 6. Garrison is the highest-ranked transfer to commit to play for Kentucky next season, according to 247Sports.

Seven of the eight are ranked as four-star transfer prospects, per 247Sports‘ rankings. Garrison leads the way at No. 23, followed by Oweh (34th), Butler (48th), Carr (71st), Williams (88th), Brea (91st) and Kriisa (126th). Almonor, who comes in at No. 319, per 247Sports’ transfer rankings, is the lone three-star joining the Wildcats.

Who are the players Kentucky has lost to the transfer portal?

In this file photo, then-Kentucky players Zvonimir Ivisic (44) and D.J. Wagner (21) celebrate during the game against Arkansas at Rupp Arena on March 2. Ivišić already has committed to play for John Calipari and the Razorbacks next season; Wagner might join them.In this file photo, then-Kentucky players Zvonimir Ivisic (44) and D.J. Wagner (21) celebrate during the game against Arkansas at Rupp Arena on March 2. Ivišić already has committed to play for John Calipari and the Razorbacks next season; Wagner might join them.

In this file photo, then-Kentucky players Zvonimir Ivisic (44) and D.J. Wagner (21) celebrate during the game against Arkansas at Rupp Arena on March 2. Ivišić already has committed to play for John Calipari and the Razorbacks next season; Wagner might join them.

Seven players from last season’s roster hit the portal after former coach John Calipari left for Arkansas: big men Aaron BradshawZvonimir Ivišić and Ugonna Onyenso, guards Joey Hart and D.J. Wagner along with Jordan Burks and Adou Thiero, who shifted between the backcourt and frontcourt depending on the lineup.

Thiero and Ivišić followed Calipari to Fayetteville, Arkansas. Bradshaw committed to Ohio State. Burks cast his lot with Georgetown. Hart is heading back home to the Hoosier State to play for Ball State. Wagner hasn’t made a decision, but Arkansas is in the running to land another ex-Wildcat. And Onyenso entered the NBA draft but still is mulling over whether to return for another college season.

Who is the best transfer from another conference who will play in the SEC next season?

In this file photo, then-Florida Atlantic guard Johnell Davis (1) drives to the basket against Memphis  guard Jaykwon Walton (10) during the second half of a game last season at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Davis is transferring to Arkansas, where he will play for John Calipari next season.In this file photo, then-Florida Atlantic guard Johnell Davis (1) drives to the basket against Memphis  guard Jaykwon Walton (10) during the second half of a game last season at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Davis is transferring to Arkansas, where he will play for John Calipari next season.

In this file photo, then-Florida Atlantic guard Johnell Davis (1) drives to the basket against Memphis guard Jaykwon Walton (10) during the second half of a game last season at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Davis is transferring to Arkansas, where he will play for John Calipari next season.

Per the 247Sports rankings, that honor belongs to Calipari and the Razorbacks, who bring in former Florida Atlantic star Johnell Davis. Slotting in at No. 3 in 247Sports’ rankings, Davis averaged 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for the Owls last season. Davis knocked down 48.3% of his shots overall, including 41.4% of his 3-point attempts.

Where does Kentucky basketball’s transfer haul rank among conference teams?

Per 247Sports' rankings, new Arkansas coach John Calipari has the nation's best class of incoming transfers.Per 247Sports' rankings, new Arkansas coach John Calipari has the nation's best class of incoming transfers.

Per 247Sports’ rankings, new Arkansas coach John Calipari has the nation’s best class of incoming transfers.

In the 247Sports team rankings for transfer commits, Kentucky comes in at No. 2 in the SEC, trailing only Arkansas; the Razorbacks not only rank No. 1 in the SEC, they have the best transfer class nationally. UK’s group is No. 5 in the country, with Indiana, St. John’s and West Virginia between itself and Arkansas.

Alabama is third among SEC teams, ranking No. 7 nationally.

Missouri (No. 12), Ole Miss (13) and league newcomer Texas (16) also come in among the country’s top 20 transfer hauls.

Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at rblack@gannett.com and follow him on X at @RyanABlack.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky basketball, Mark Pope building via NCAA transfer portal

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