Kentucky basketball projected starting five: a key piece still missing from Mark Pope’s roster

Mark Pope has been busy since getting to Kentucky. After not retaining any of John Calipari's roster, Pope has loaded up in the transfer portal. So here's how his seven portal additions could fit on the court next winter.
West Virginia Mountaineers guard Kerr Kriisa (3)
West Virginia Mountaineers guard Kerr Kriisa (3) / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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LaMont Butler. SG. 6'2" 205 lbs. . Eligibility Remaining: 1 year. LaMont Butler. player. 528. LaMont Butler.

Mark Pope was not known for his stout defensive teams at BYU, but that was priority No. 1 during his first few months on the job in Lexington. Aside from rangy rim protectors like Amari Williams and Brandon Garrison, Pope also added Butler, arguably the best point-of-attack defender in the entire country. 

Last season at San Diego State, coming off an appearance in the 2023 National Championship Game, Butler won Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year despite only averaging 1.5 steals a game. It’s almost impossible for a guard to garner that type of recognition without the statistical confirmation to back it up, but that’s how impactful of a defender Butler is. 

At 6-foot-2, Butler is a non-shooter, only hitting 30% from three last season. It will be interesting to see how Pope balances lineups with multiple non-shooters on the floor, especially if he strikes out on a primary shot-creator like Chaz Lanier, a recent transfer portal target.