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As we begin the first year of the Mark Pope era, Kentucky is unquestionably a top-25 club.

Almost immediately after Mark Pope was announced as the Kentucky Wildcats’ next head coach, rumors began that Robinson would follow him to Lexington. That was before Robinson tested the NBA Draft waters, and there was a point where it appeared he’d stay in. Thankfully, Robinson opted to return for what will be his final season of college basketball as a fifth-year senior. He not only has a great shot at being Kentucky’s best player next season, but he could be an All-SEC performer after earning Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year honors this past season.

The Wildcats now confidently appear to be a top-25 club going into the upcoming season (and that’s before a potential Will Riley reclass) when combined with the additional firepower Pope brought to Lexington, which included players like Lamont Butler, Koby Brea, and Andrew Carr. The national media is in agreement. Aaron Torres of FOX Sports thinks this team has what it takes to be a top-15 team that can win the SEC.

Before Robinson selected the Cats, Andy Katz of Power 36 actually had Kentucky rated twenty-first. With Andrew Carr and a younger group of big men making plays inside, Mark Pope’s team is primed to challenge the best in the SEC right now. In the backcourt, Koby Brea, Lamont Butler, and Kerr Kriisa provide a formidable combination.

Before Robinson committed, CJ Moore of The Athletic also had Kentucky ranked in the top 25, coming in at number 24 overall.

Without a standout player, Kentucky seems to be a team made up of a lot of excellent complementary players. A year ago, BYU had one of the top offenses in college basketball and finished the most of the season ranked in the Top 25. However, you could have made the same argument about that team. Mark Pope demonstrated his passion for shooting by landing Kriisa and Brea, two of the portal’s top shooters. He gets some agility and defensive prowess from Butler and Oweh on the perimeter, while Williams and Garrison ought to provide the same in the interior. Chandler, a four-star prospect in the 2022 class who has been on a mission for the past two years, is the one player who has the potential to become a star. He was able to adjust the calculus. Nonetheless, Pope has established himself as a capable X-and-O coach, and this team has the best depth and talent of any he has ever had. With or without a star, this team will most likely score goals quickly and win a lot of games.

Written by schooleiwa

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