The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

Follow us on Instagram

Kentucky men’s basketball roster tracker: Who’s back, who’s new and who’s gone?

Kentucky+head+coach+John+Calipari+interactions+with+fans+ahead+of+the+Kentucky+vs.+North+Carolina+mens+basketball+game+on+Saturday%2C+Sec.+16%2C+2023%2C+at+State+Farm+Arena+in+Atlanta%2C+Georgia.+Kentucky+won+87-82.+Photo+by+Isaiah+Pinto+%7C+Staff
Isaiah Pinto
Kentucky head coach John Calipari interactions with fans ahead of the Kentucky vs. North Carolina mens basketball game on Saturday, Sec. 16, 2023, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky won 87-82. Photo by Isaiah Pinto | Staff

With another season in the books following Kentucky’s 80-76 loss to Oakland, the offseason has arrived.

But, despite a quiet start, the 2024 offseason will prove to be a unique one in Lexington as head coach John Calipari has decided to leave the Wildcats to take up the mantle as the next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

In what was a seismic shift in college basketball, Kentucky is certain to have an offseason unlike any other, with the likelihood of an almost entirely different roster seeming imminent.

With so much to keep up with involving decommitments, new head Mark Pope, NBA Draft declarations and transfer news, the Kentucky Kernel decided to put it together all in one place.

Who’s back:

Information will be added when it becomes available.

Who’s gone:

Antonio Reeves: Kentucky’s loss to Oakland officially ended Reeves’ two-year stint in Lexington as the veteran ran out of collegiate eligibility.

Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves dribbles the ball during the Kentucky vs. Georgetown men’s basketball game on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 92-69. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff (Abbey Cutrer)

Transferring to Lexington as a senior from Illinois State, Reeves made an immediate impact in Lexington as a spot-up shooter to replace fellow former transfer Kellan Grady, who is currently playing professional basketball in France.

Reeves averaged 14.4 points per game for a Kentucky team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and, following its defeat, tested the waters of the NBA Draft.

Deciding to return to a final season in college, Reeves transformed into one of the best players in college basketball with massive strides in defensive and driving ability while maintaining his ability to hit from beyond the arch.

He averaged 20.2 points per game and was named to the All-SEC First Team, with the veteran also receiving votes to be an All American.

With his time in college done it is presumed that Reeves will declare for the NBA Draft, though he has made no official statement.

Tre Mitchell: Mitchell also ran out of eligibility following Kentucky’s early exit from the “Big Dance.”

Kentucky forward Tre Mitchell (4) goes to shoot the ball during the No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 14 Oakland mens basketball game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, March 21, 2024, at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Kentucky lost 80-76. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff (Samuel Colmar)

A surprise get for Kentucky, with Mitchell intending to stay at West Virginia prior to Bob Huggins’ DUI arrest and subsequent resignation, the former Mountaineer, Texas Longhorn and Umass Minuteman made an immediate impact in Lexington.

A heavy contributor to the team prior to injury late in the year, Mitchell was seen by many as a “glue guy” who helped lead and keep the team together off the court just as much as he did on it.

In his one season with the Cats he averaged 10.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, which included a 14-point, 13-rebound double double against the Golden Grizzlies in the fatal defeat.

Similar to Reeves, Mitchell has not put out an official statement regarding his future.

Brennan Canada: The final player running out of eligibility was Canada, who concluded a five year career with Kentucky.

Kentucky guard Brennan Canada speaks with reporters during the mens basketball media day press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, at the Joe Craft Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Brady Saylor | Staff (Brady Saylor)

A graduate of George Rogers Clark High School (GRC) in Kentucky, Canada represented Kentucky for all four years before deciding to return for a fifth and final season in blue and white during the last offseason.

He played in a total of 25 games in Lexington with a zenith of nine during the 2021-22 season. During the 2023-24 season he saw the court in five games and did not take a shot at any point whilst on the court.
Canada has not released any kind of statement.

Adou Thiero: The first Kentucky player to hit the transfer portal was upcoming junior Adou Thiero.

The news broke on Thursday, March 28, the dawn of the Sweet Sixteen.

Kentucky guard Adou Thiero (3) drives with the ball during the Kentucky vs Vanderbilt mens basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee. Kentucky won 109-77. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff (Samuel Colmar)

Thiero was not a major player his freshman year, though he did see the court plenty, averaging just 2.3 points per game in 20 appearances.

Putting on muscle in the offseason, year two was where Thiero truly shined, improving his average up to 7.2 points per game but, more importantly, he used his physicality on an otherwise not-very-physical team to average five rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

While he battled some injury issues as a sophomore, Thiero started 19 out of 25 games he appeared in. He played seven minutes in Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament loss to Oakland, scoring two points with one assist.

On Saturday, March 30, Thiero posted a formal statement on Instagram declaring that he would test the waters of the NBA Draft while keeping his options open, including a potential return to Lexington.

Justin Edwards: The first of Kentucky’s freshman to formally make his decision, Justin Edwards declared for the NBA Draft on Thursday, May 4. He made the announcement via his personal Instagram.

Kentucky guard Justin Edwards (1) prepares to shoot the ball during the No. 17 Kentucky vs. Gonzaga men’s basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 89-85. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff (Samuel Colmar)

Edwards came to Kentucky as a five-star prospect out of Imhotep Institute, a charter school in Philadelphia. He was the No. 3 national recruit and the No. 1 small forward and Pennsylvania recruit.

While he struggled to live up to his hype for most of the season, he came into his own in the back half, finishing with an average of 8.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 48.6% from the field.

Edwards reached his zenith in the Cats’ blowout win over Alabama, which is currently in the Final Four, scoring 28 points and shooting a perfect 10-10 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arch.

In the Cats’ first round NCAA Tournament exit against Oakland Edwards scored 10 points, tying Rob Dillingham as the best freshman scorer in the game and tying for third leading scorer in the contest behind veterans Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves.

In his declaration statement Edwards did not include any language to indicate he is keeping the door open on a return to Lexington so, while he has yet to officially forgo any collegiate eligibility, it appears as though he will be departing Lexington after just one season as the latest in a lengthy history of one-and-done players to come through UK.

Aaron Bradshaw: Kentucky center Aaron Bradshaw joined the list of Wildcats to enter their names into the transfer portal along with the NBA Draft on Monday.

Kentucky forward Aaron Bradshaw yells in excitement during the Kentucky men’s basketball game vs. Tennessee on Saturday, March 9, 2024, at the Food City Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kentucky won 85-81. Photo by Isaiah Pinto | Staff (Isaiah Pinto)

It was reported by 247Sports before noon on Monday that the big man was leaving Lexington. He also released a statement on his personal social media.

Bradshaw did so after it was announced that head coach John Calipari would be leaving Lexington to take the Arkansas job. The big man spent one season in Lexington.

Initially committing as a five-star prospect — the No. 1 center in his class and No. 5 prospect overall — out of Camden High School with teammate D.J. Wagner, the future seemed bright for Bradshaw when he decided — at Big Blue Madness of all places — that he was destined to be a Cat.

Instead his debut was delayed when he suffered a foot injury during the GLOBL Jam tournament in Toronto over the summer.

When he finally did make his debut, his return coincided with his fellow Camden High teammate’s injury exit in Kentucky’s loss on its home court to UNC Wilmington.

He would continue to struggle to truly find his footing, averaging 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, dropping three of each in the Cats’ NCAA Tournament loss versus Oakland.

Likely returning to college for an additional season with input from NBA scouts, Bradshaw will play somewhere other than Lexington.

Karter Knox: Karter Knox, the four-star recruit who was the most recent player to commit to Kentucky, has decided to reopen his commitment following the departure of John Calipari to Arkansas.

Karter Knox. Photo sourced from Instagram: karterrknox

The news was reported by the Tampa Bay Times, who spoke to Knox’s father regarding the matter.

Calipari had a significant impact on the Knox family as Karter’s older brother Kevin played for the Wildcats back during the 2017-18 season.

Knox was offered by Louisville, Arizona State, Arkansas and South Florida before narrowing down his list to just Kentucky, Louisville, South Florida and the NBA G-League on Oct. 19.

On March 9,  Knox committed to Kentucky for what he thought was going to be a run with Calipari, but that all changed with news that “Cal” is headed to Fayetteville.

The unexpected exit may have played a major role in Knox’s decision to re-engage in the recruiting process.

A destination for Knox has yet to be determined.

Joey Hart: Kentucky freshman Joey Hart joined the list of Wildcats to enter their name into the transfer portal on Monday.

KSR’s Jack Pilgrim broke the news.

While not a star competitor, Hart drew some initial excitement upon committing to Kentucky as a three-star prospect.

Never really having a chance to shine, Hart averaged 0.4 points per game in seven appearances. While he never had a strong game, scoring three points all season, he will go down in history for nailing the 3-pointer that capped off Kentucky’s 118-82 win over Marshall, which broke the scoring record for UK under John Calipari.

While he was initially expected to develop in the offseason and perhaps be a useful piece of the 2024-25 roster, the departure of Calipari for Arkansas led Hart to opt to leave for greener pastures.

Rob Dillingham: The second player to enter their name into the 2024 NBA Draft pool without also entering the transfer portal was Rob Dillingham, who did so on Tuesday.

Dillingham made his announcement on NBA TV with host Malika Andrews.

Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham looks at his coach during the Kentucky vs. Florida mens’s basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 94-91. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff (Abbey Cutrer)

Dillingham became a fan favorite during his one season in Lexington, which almost didn’t happen as he was previously expected to play for the NC State Wolfpack.

A four-star recruit, Dillingham chose to join John Calipari in Lexington in a move that, at the end of the day, cost him four NCAA Tournament rounds as the Wolfpack went on a thrilling run to the Final Four.

During his one and only season in Lexington Dillingham averaged 15.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game coming off the bench along with Reed Sheppard.

Dillingham, who was characterized by his fans as being “shifty” scored 10 points in the Cats’ NCAA Tournament loss against Oakland, being one of two freshmen to score a double digit point total in a game where many younger players failed to perform.

His decision to enter the draft came as little surprise, as the freshman is a projected lottery pick.

Jayden Quaintance:  Following the departure of head coach John Calipari, incoming freshman five-star recruit Jayden Quaintance requested to be released from his national letter of intent to reopen his recruitment on Wednesday.

Jayden Quaintance. Photo sourced from Instagram: qjay_21

Many fans had gotten excited at reports that Quaintance may be willing to stay in Lexington following Calipari’s departure, but the five-star out of Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, extinguished those hopes.

Quaintance received offers from SEC foes in Missouri and Florida, while also receiving interest from Ohio State and South Florida before ultimately committing to Kentucky on Nov. 14, 2023.

The North Carolina native reclassified to the class of 2024 and will be required to play two years of amateur basketball before being allowed to enter the NBA Draft due to the requirement of draftees being at least 19 years old.

Somto Cyril: Four-star Kentucky commit Somto Cyril has announced that he has decided to reopen his recruitment following the departure of John Calipari to Arkansas.

Somto Cyril. Photo sourced from Instagram: somtocyril

Cyril was released from his national letter of intent on Wednesday. He committed to UK back on June 28, 2023, and signed his letter of intent on Nov. 8, 2023.

The 6-foot, 10-inch center played in the Overtime Elite league and was offered by Cincinnati, Florida, Georgetown and Indiana. 

Now, with Calipari gone, the sweepstakes to get the highly talented and physical big man is back up and running. He was the third commit after Karter Knox on Monday and Jayden Quaintance earlier in the day to decommit from the Cats, who are still without a head coach.

Zvonimir Ivišić: Despite initial hopes that the Croatian sensation Zvonimir “Big Z” Ivišić may be planning to return for a second season at Kentucky, following the departure of head coach John Calipari the big man instead opted to enter the transfer portal.

Kentucky forward Zvonimir Ivišić (44) celebrates from the bench during the No. 17 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Alabama men’s basketball match on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 117-95. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff (Samuel Colmar)

Ivišić was limited in his one season with Kentucky, being ineligible to play until conference play due to the NCAA refusing to clear him after he joined the team late. That, as well as a constant stream of illnesses, kept Big Z from truly reaching his full potential, leading the Balkan big to seek an extra year of college.

In his one season Ivišić averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, though it could be argued he peaked in his first ever collegiate game against Georgia.

Scoring 13 points, Ivišić dazzled with big blocks — three to be exact — and a behind-the-back assist to Antonio Reeves that sent Rupp Arena into a frenzy. If all that wasn’t enough, the big man went 3-4 from beyond the arch, hitting three straight 3-pointers.

His highest point-scoring game would come on February 24 when he dropped 18 in a blowout win over No. 13 Alabama, which would go on to reach the Final Four.

Interestingly, all four times Ivišić scored in double figures the Wildcats cracked 100+ points, dropping 105 over the Bulldogs, 109 over Vanderbilt (Ivišić had 11), 117 against Bama and 111 against Arkansas (12 for Big Z).

“Z” entered a long line of Cats to enter the portal or declare for the draft after the departure of Calipari, but was the first to do so after the hiring of Mark Pope.

Who’s new:

Kentucky currently has three freshmen — three down from its initial six — for the 2024-25 season. This group includes four stars Travis Perry, Billy Richmond and Boogie Fland. As of this moment none have decommitted to Kentucky following Calipari’s exit.

More information will be added as it becomes available.

Who’s being targeted:

BJ Freeman: Per PortalUpdates, Kentucky reportedly reached out to UW-Milwaukee guard BJ Freeman.

Freeman averaged 21.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for the Panthers last season as a sophomore.

With multiple years of eligibility left, he could be a hot commodity for a Kentucky team that seems to better understand the value of veteran leadership after its brutal loss to Oakland in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky is competing with the likes of Kansas, Villanova, Texas A&M and Tennessee for the transfer guard.

Clifford Omoruyi: The first player reported that Kentucky reached out to was Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi.

Standing at 6-foot,11-inches, Omoruyi has one year of eligibility remaining after averaging 10.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game with the Scarlet Knights last season. He shot 51.2% from the field.

He is a former four star recruit and was ranked top 50 overall in the 2020 recruiting class by On3.

It was first reported by Joe Tipton of On3 that Kentucky, along with a laundry list of other big schools including Kansas, Baylor and Illinois, had all reached out to the big man with interest.

Liam McNeely: As first reported by ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, Kentucky reached out to former Indiana commit Liam McNeely.

McNeely was quoted as listing Kentucky along with UConn, Kansas and Houston, along with Michigan and new head coach Dusty May, in schools that had reached out to him since his decommitment.

He currently plays for Montverde Academy in Florida and is graded as a five-star recruit by 247Sports.

A six-foot, seven-inch, small forward, McNeely is the 16th nationally ranked recruit in the class of 2024 and the fourth ranked player in the state of Florida.

Tyler Nickel: As first reported by Aaron Gershon of The Cat’s Pause, Kentucky reached out to Virginia Tech’s Tyler Nickel on Monday.

Nickel entered the portal along with several of his teammate after the Hokies’ loss to Florida State in the ACC Tournament. Va Tech finished the 2023-24 season 19-15 and lost to Ohio State in the NIT after first beating Richmond.

Nickel averaged 8.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game for the Hokies as a sophomore, but perhaps more interestingly shot 39.9% from beyond the arch, making him a target for numerous schools looking to add shooting threats this offseason.

Jalen Blackmon: Kentucky reportedly reached out to Stetson Hatters’ guard Jalen Blackmon per ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.

Blackmon is in the transfer portal while also testing the NBA Draft waters after earning All-ASUN First Team honors with the Hatters, who won the Atlantic Sun Conference automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

A son of former Kentucky star James Blackmon, who suited up for both Joe B. Hall and Eddie Sutton from 1983-87, Blackmon, a junior, averaged 21.3 points per game in DeLand, Florida.

Assuming he returns to college, Kentucky will be competing against the likes of Kansas, Indiana, UCLA, Mississippi State, Texas and Xavier for Blackmon.

Cade Tyson: Kentucky reportedly reached out to Belmont Bruins sharpshooter Cade Tyson on Wednesday.

Tyson averaged 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game with Belmont as a sophomore and shot 46% from beyond the arch.

Kentucky joined Duke, North Carolina and Tennessee in reaching out to Tyson as it continues to try to build out its 2024-25 roster. Tyson seems like an attempt at filling the void that will be left behind by Antonio Reeves, who is graduating.

Javian McCollum: Kentucky reportedly reached out to Oklahoma’s Javian McCollum on Friday, April 5.

McCollum, a junior guard from Fort Myers, Florida, averaged 13.3 points per game to go along with 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

Kentucky will be competing with the likes of USC, Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida, Michigan and, perhaps most intensely, with Georgia Tech for McCollum.

AJ Storr: As was reported by The Cats Pause, Kentucky reportedly reached out to one of the top transfers in college basketball in Wisconsin’s AJ Storr.

Storr averaged 16.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Wisconsin Badgers, who finished runners up to the Big Ten Tournament title before falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against James Madison.

The sophomore quickly entered the transfer portal in the offseason and has garnered interest from some of college basketball’s elites including Kansas. Kentucky reportedly joined the list on Sunday.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Cole Parke, Sports Editor
Samuel Colmar, Assistant Photo Editor
Abbey Cutrer, Managing/Photo Editor

Comments (0)

All Kentucky Kernel Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *