Kentucky guard 'could really surprise' during year one in Lexington

Collin Chandler is coming off of a two-year mission trip, but has the tools to be a valuable option for Kentucky.
Fans were excited during the announcement for new Kentucky head coach Mark Pope at Rupp Arena in Lexington Ky. on April 14, 2024.
Fans were excited during the announcement for new Kentucky head coach Mark Pope at Rupp Arena in Lexington Ky. on April 14, 2024. / Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal / USA

Mark Pope came to Kentucky and was immediately tasked with building a roster and putting together the pieces of a program that was without a single player after the departure of John Calipari.

He hit the transfer portal hard, securing commitments from nine players -- many of whom are extremely experienced and battle-tested.

He also added three freshmen -- two from Kentucky and one who was previously committed to BYU.

While Kentucky's roster is built from the top down in terms of experience, one of those incoming freshmen seems to be flying under the radar.

That is Collin Chandler. Chandler, who flipped his commitment to UK this spring, originally committed to BYU in the 2022 class and was a top-35 recruit. His two-year mission trip is a reason for many people to write him off in year one. That is except for one national recruiting analyst who believes he can 'really surprise' during his freshman year.

"Chandler was very well thought of coming out of high school and could really surprise in year No. 1 coming off of his mission," 247Sports National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi wrote.

Chandler scored 1,587 career points and made 135 3-pointers in his career at Farmington High (UT). He was named the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year in 2022 after averaging 21.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Despite not being on the radar of many people over the last few years while he was away from basketball, he was one of the top players during his junior year summer. He rose 20 spots in the final 247Sports ranking.

"Chandler has more than backed up his already lofty ranking and looks like a guy with potential to be a major difference maker at the next level," Bossi wrote back in July of his junior year summer. "This is more about his play throughout the entire 3SSB event than just Saturday. He’s attacked the rim with aggression, bombed deep jumpers and made all kinds of slick dishes. He plays fast and smart at the same time and looks like he could play anywhere in the country."

There's no doubt these next eight weeks during the summer will be critical for Chandler to get back into basketball shape. But, the talent is there.

“Collin Chandler is one of the most talented high school players in the country,” Pope of Chandler when he signed with Kentucky. “He has a silky-smooth jumper, a slippery ability to get to the rim, an explosive burst and the most impressive of all, he has incredible processing speed as he reads space and time and makes plays on pure instinct."

It'll be interesting to see where Chandler lands in the rotation for Kentucky. There's no doubt that UK's backcourt is stacked with numerous players, but his ability to create off of the dribble is a skill that could help, at least in spot minutes.

"Mark Pope should have no problems with Kentucky's floor-mapping," Bossi added. "The ability to create space is everything in modern basketball, and Pope has built one of the best shooting rosters in the country."

Chandler arrived on campus last week. He will wear #5 this season.