May 22, 2024

Despite only having been head coach at Kentucky for a month, Mark Pope has assembled a team that is capable of winning as well as competing.

Mark Pope expressed his excitement about the Kentucky roster, saying it “fits brilliantly.”
Mark Pope spoke with the Field of 68 podcast about his potential roster for his first season at Kentucky as well as the offseason.

Pope lost every player on the roster when he took over the Kentucky program. This featured players withdrawing from the team, players entering the NBA Draft, and all but one 2024 signee. Pope had no players on his roster when the first week began.

Then, in the course of a week, he signed seven transfer commits, propelling Kentucky to the top of the recruiting trail.

Pope told Field of 68 co-founder Jeff Goodman, “You’re working in a really condensed window where everything happened so fast.” “… We’ve been really blessed to put together a roster that I think fits brilliantly what we’re trying to do … the pieces are incredible with how they fit together and how they fit us.”

Some of the most productive and successful offensive teams in the nation have been part of Mark Pope’s BYU lineups. It was 14th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency rankings the previous year. They were rated seventh in 2020 and twenty-third in 2021.

Pope therefore wanted to ensure that the players he planned to acquire fit his approach even as it came to assembling a team.

But that wasn’t how it began. Although Pope considers himself to be more of an offensive thinker, Amari Williams, Lamont Butler, and Otega Oweh were his first three transfer commits and were all more defensive players.

Pope then selected players who worked well with them and were perfect attacking players for his system, giving his team a solid core and foundation.

“We kind of backed our way into what I think is a really, really intriguing roster for us, that fits us,” Pope stated. “I think these guys fit together. I think every single one of these guys has elite-level character.”

Players like Andrew Carr, Koby Brea, Kerr Kriisa, and others are included in this.

“Andrew Carr was born to play for us and Koby Brea, look it up, he’s the most efficient, high-mid, high-major player in the last decade offensively,” Pope stated. “He’s a 1.33 points for possession guy last year. The next closest guy at 1.31. I’ve never seen numbers like what he did last year ever. He is like exactly us.”

Kentucky still has three scholarships up for grabs for the following academic year. However, Pope is now quite happy with the players he will be facing at Rupp Arena the next season.

“I think the pieces are incredible with how they fit together and how they fit us,” said Pope. “We couldn’t be more excited.”

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