Mark Pope details Kentucky's plan for final three scholarship spots

Kentucky has three scholarships still open and Mark Pope breaks down what he's looking for in those final spots.
University of Kentucky’s new men’s basketball coach Mark Pope speaks about the future of Kentucky
University of Kentucky’s new men’s basketball coach Mark Pope speaks about the future of Kentucky / Clare Grant/Courier Journal / USA TODAY

Mark Pope and the rest of the Kentucky staff have been in an all-out pursuit of the transfer portal since arriving in Lexington last month.

After losing every member of its roster from last year, including an entire 2024 recruiting class, Pope had his work cut out for him.

He then added seven transfers and three high school prospects and has now put together a roster that 'fits brilliantly' together.

But, there are still three scholarships to use. Pope knows exactly how he wants to fill out the roster and explained that this week.

"We're at ten scholarships right now," Pope told CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein this week. "I have two really, really important pieces that I have to add. Then the 13th scholarship is a floating piece. The way we envision it is It could be for a place for a young player. It could be a place for a senior player who is going to take a redshirt year. It could be a place for a project. It could be a place for a high-risk guy. That's how we see it but, we're really dialed in on filling these last two spots as a priority right now."

Kentucky has hit on just about every skillset through the portal at the moment. But, it still lacks a real go-to scorer.

There are a few names Mark Pope is looking at that fit that mold, including a few currently part of the NBA Combine this week.

But for now, Kentucky's 10-man roster consists of the leading three-point shooter in the nation last year in Koby Brea, a former McDonald's All-American in Brandon Garrison, Lamont Butler who hit a buzzer-beater in the 2023 Final Four and others.

At the end of the day, though, outside of Garrison, who will be a sophomore, Pope added five players who have played at least four years in college. Pope's roster is not only 'old', but his roster consists of numerous high-major players who have quite the experience playing at a high level.

"This is year one of a project. But this group that we've assembled has way more experience than the team that we had last year at BYU," Pope added. "These guys are proven quantities. They've been into the NCAA Tournament multiple times and hit game-winning shots to get into the national championship game. Veteran, veteran guys who have played for a long time at the highest level.

June 10th is when players will begin arriving on campus in Lexington.

Until then, Pope is looking to finalize his roster, a roster that will look to compete atop the SEC next year.