May 24, 2024

Mark Pope has been active since he arrived in Kentucky. Pope has logged into the transfer site after failing to retain any of John Calipari’s roster members. So here’s how his seven portal additions would fit onto the court next winter.

Mark Pope is only two months into his employment at Kentucky, but he’s already demonstrated that his limited success as a college basketball head coach was due to limits imposed by Utah Valley and BYU. Pope is expanding his roster now that he has access to outstanding talent in Lexington.

While Pope was unable to keep a single player from John Calipari’s roster, he did add ten players to his 2024 roster. Seven came through the transfer portal, with three more coming in as incoming freshman, including Collin Chandler, who spent the last two years on a mission trip after committing to Pope and BYU in 2022.

Coach Cal was the king of the one-and-done, but Pope has redefined the term, which one Big Blue Nation had grown tired of hearing. Pope’s one-and-done players include graduate transfers Kerr Kriisa from West Virginia, Koby Brea from Dayton, LaMont Butler from San Diego State, Andrew Carr from Wake Forest, and Amari Williams from Drexel.

 

John Calipari, Kentucky:
John Calipari

 

 

While the roster is stocked with great contributors, it still lacks a true focal point, but Pope does not appear to be finished. It may not look like this in Game 1 next season, but this is Kentucky’s anticipated starting lineup.

Kriisa has already traveled extensively. He began his career at Arizona before transferring to West Virginia, which was most likely done to make place for Caleb Love in Tucson. With Darian DeVries taking over in Morgantown, Kriisa needed a new home for his final year of college basketball.

Kriisa doesn’t have much upside, and his 2.9 turnovers per game last year are alarming, but he’s the perfect point guard for Mark Pope’s motion offense. Kriisa keeps the ball moving on offense and can organize an efficient pick-and-roll, but his outstanding catch-and-shoot percentages allow him to play without the ball in his hands, which is becoming increasingly important for Kentucky point guards.

Kriisa had a career-high 42.4% three-point shooting at West Virginia, but he’ll need an attacking guard to help him break down SEC defenses. Kriisa lacks the athleticism to consistently beat defenders off the dribble, but he could be a good fit in lineups with Otega Oweh, a slim slasher who presently projects as Kentucky’s third guard.

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