Kentucky wildcats

Kentucky a top-15 preseason roster? The mix of Mark Pope’s system and players could become ‘super dangerous’

Mark Pope’s system and roster could make Kentucky ‘super dangerous’ this season.

Kentucky had the busiest offseason around the country and with summer workouts underway, it’s time for the next phase ahead of Mark Pope’s debut season.

The next two months will be about teaching and learning — from both the players and coaches. Chemistry could be the biggest question mark that could hold this team back throughout the season. With 12 players who haven’t played a second of college basketball together, a critical summer awaits.

But, Pope is excited about his group … and how he put his roster together.

‘We had to start with a couple of guys whose DNA is winning,” Pope said last week. “At the highest level, in the biggest ways. Just veteran players. The construction of this roster was super fun and an incredible project.”

His new squad includes six players who have at least four years of college experience. Others are younger athletes who made important contributions before stopping in Lexington.

There is a mix of young and old talent all over the floor, from Lamont Butler, who hit a buzzer-beater in the Final Four two years ago, to former McDonald’s All-American Brandon Garrison and the nation’s top three-point shooter, Koby Brea.

The NBA Draft withdrawal deadline was the largest addition, but it was made after the fact. The appellation? Jaxson Robinson, a person who significantly increased Kentucky’s potential.

So as the dust has settled, not only is Kentucky a top-25 team to start the season, they are continuing to receive top-15 projections.

“Maybe a top-15 ranking is a bit too bullish of a projection for these new-look ‘Cats,” 247Sports national reporter Isaac Trotter wrote. “But the shooting, rim protection and experience combined with this scheme could morph becoming quite hazardous.”

There are veterans in Kentucky. It possesses both depth and talent.

One Kentucky-specific x-factor? Trotter thinks that Otega Oweh, a transfer from Oklahoma, is the “kind of weapon” that will work best in Pope’s scheme.

Kentucky’s talent level won’t be a problem. As said earlier, the things that will be gained this summer are cohesion and chemistry.

In any case, the ultimate objective is still the same. To do it, ‘hang banner 9’


Kentucky basketball’s odds to win the NCAA Tournament are better than expected

Could Mark Pope win a National Championship in his first season as Kentucky’s coach?

The roster is nearly finished for Mark Pope’s first Kentucky basketball team, and it is shaping up to be one that can make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Over the last few seasons of college basketball, a trend has come up where the older teams make deeper runs in the NCAA Tournament. This is why John Calipari’s teams have struggled over the last few seasons.

Coach Pope has a roster that is made for March thanks to a handful of veteran players, many of which have played in the NCAA Tournament. This is why some folks are high on the Wildcats being a sleeper team during the 2024-25 season.

When you look on FanDuel Sportsbook the Wildcats odds of winning the NCAA Tournament are better than some might have expected at +3500. These are the 14th best odds to win it all right behind Arkansas at +3000.

These are also the fourth-best odds to win it all in the SEC, behind only Alabama ( +1200), Auburn (+2500), and Arkansas (+3000).

While it is unlikely that Coach Pope will win it all in his first season in Lexington, crazier things have happened in college hoops, and his team has the DNA to get it done.

Kentucky is going to have a tough schedule this season as they have to play Duke, Louisville, and Clemson in the non-conference so far and a gauntlet of an SEC schedule. This will help this team get ready for the NCAA Tournament, where, hopefully, they will make a deep run.

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