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Transfer Portal Target “Willing To Do Whatever” To Help Kentucky Win A Title

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There is mutual interest between Kentucky and transfer guard BJ Freeman, who says "will do whatever" to help Kentucky win another title.
MARK HOFFMAN/USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s transfer portal season and now that the season is over and players begin to make their decisions, the Kentucky staff is starting to evaluate some players in the transfer portal and reach out to them. The player Kentucky has reached out to most recently is BJ Freeman, a 6-6 guard for the Milwaukee Panthers.

It’s safe to say the interest is mutual.

“Kentucky is a historic program. You can’t play for anyone better than Coach Cal,” Freeman said recently in an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio. “Pro-wise, guard-wise, the success he’s had, it doesn’t get any better than that. I feel like my game can carry on and play his play style. If I love it there and we continue this process, maybe I could be one of the next Kentucky greats and Kentucky pros.”

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Known for his scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game last season, 16th in the nation, Freeman wants it to be known that he is doing whatever it takes to help Kentucky win.

“People underestimate my passing because they see me score the ball so well,” he said. “Being able to get my teammates involved and seeing my teammates score the ball gives me more joy than having myself score. That’s a big thing that I want to show coaches. I’m really versatile. I can also initiate the offense. I’m willing to do whatever to win and put another banner up there at Kentucky.

While Kentucky has contacted Freeman, no details of a visit have been set. He expects that to change over the next few days as he communicates with Kentucky assistant Chuck Martin.

“We should continue to talk today; we’re going to keep building the relationship and see if I can come down there and take a visit,” he said. “We’re just going to stay in touch, keep communicating to make the process go a little bit faster, and keep things going. It’s really about building a relationship.”

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While Kentucky sounds to be in a really good spot for Freeman, Arkansas is also pursuing his services. However, there have been rumors that Eric Musselman wants out of Arkansas and is showing interest in other jobs, which could change things. That said, what is Freeman looking for in a school?

“I’m big on family vibes and brotherhood. That’s exactly what Kentucky is based on,” he said. “I love everybody. I love bringing joy and putting smiles on people’s faces. I’m looking for a program that’s going to embrace me, a fanbase that’s going to embrace me through my ups and downs. I want them to still believe in me through down moments too.”

Freeman is not on any NBA Draft Boards and after talking to his mother, has decided he will not go through the draft process. Instead, he wants to make his decision on where he will play his last season of college basketball in about “three weeks”.

“I’m more than willing to contribute and be one of those key factors to bring another championship to the state of Kentucky. I want the state to be happy for me and proud of me. That’s my big goal with them. You guys are going to embrace me. You guys are going to love me and I can’t wait to get the process going. [I’m going to] come visit the campus and see what it’s all about.”

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Freeman’s comments come off very eager. If Kentucky truly wants Freeman, it sounds like they are the favorite.

BB Recruiting

2025 Five Star, Potential Reclass Candidate Will Riley Begins Kentucky Visit

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2025 five star prospect and reclass candidate, Will Riley, takes his official visit to Kentucky June 4th-6th.
IMAGN/USA Today

Will Riley, one of the top rising seniors in the class of 2025, is set to begin a two-day official visit to Kentucky on Tuesday. This was first reported by Kentucky Insider last week.

The 6-foot-8 small forward out of Malvern, PA, is currently down to five schools: Kentucky, Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, and Alabama, and is leaving the possibility of playing professionally in the NBL in Australia. Riley is coming off a visit to Illinois and will visit Alabama later this week.

Already considered a consensus Top 25 prospect in the country according to 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rival, Riley’s stock is only continuing to rise. His calling card is his scoring ability and he has put that on display this Spring.

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Through the first four sessions of the Nike EYBL circuit, he is averaging 21.9 points per game, on fairly efficient numbers, shooting 49.6 % from the field,  31.7 % from three-point range, and 79 % from free throws. Riley also adds 4.7 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game in just under 30 minutes.

A possible reclass candidate, Riley is considering making the jump from the 2025 class to the 2024 class. That decision is yet to be determined, adding an element of suspense to his potential future in college basketball.

With one current scholarship remaining for the upcoming roster, Kentucky is open to Riley reclassing and joining this year’s roster, underlining the significance of his potential addition to the team.

However, Jaxson Robinson’s commitment makes it less likely that Kentucky would be the choice if he does reclass. If he decides to remain in the 2025 class, Kentucky would remain toward the top of his list.

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Does Riley become the first top 25 recruit in the Mark Pope era?

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Mark Pope Talks About His Recruiting Approach, “Those Who Belong at Kentucky Are the Very Best Players in All of College Basketball”

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The hiring of Mark Pope was met with mixed reactions from Kentucky fans, but he is well respected in the coaching community.
Clare Grant/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

When Mark Pope was first hired at Kentucky, multiple coaches who have competed against Pope talked to Kentucky Insider about what to expect. By his peers, Mark Pope is seen as one of the best offensive minds in all of college basketball, but the question was, can he recruit?

In just over a month as Kentucky’s head coach, Pope has filled 11 of his 13 scholarship spots. Eight of those players have come via the transfer portal, which has become the quickest way to fill a roster with talent in such a short span. It also shows Pope’s understanding of the importance of the transfer portal.

That said, going forward it’s clear that Pope wants to maintain the Kentucky brand in recruiting and what it means to some of the best young talent in the country. This past weekend he and his staff were in Texas and Indianapolis watching more than a dozen five-star recruits from the 2025 and 2026 classes, including several top-five prospects. While doing so, he talked to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic about his recruiting approach.

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“We’re just out here recruiting the best players we can get, and the best players you can get at Kentucky are the best players,” Pope said. “I’m used to working with a relatively limited pool, and Kentucky has a relatively limited pool also. It’s just a little different kind of pool. The guys who belong at Kentucky are the very best players in all of college basketball, so those are the guys you’re chasing. And then from that group, we’re chasing guys that really fit us, the way we’re attacking the game and the way we’re playing.”

Of the players that Pope is pursuing and will pursue, they are tiered. “It’s a balance. We’re actually tiering kids,” he said. “The kids we think are one-and-done that we really want to try and grab; another tier of guys we think can come be in the rotation as freshmen; and then a tier of guys you say, ‘Man, I’m telling you, that kid is going to come add something to our program as a freshman, even if he’s not in the rotation, and then he’s going to win us the biggest games in college basketball as a junior or senior.’”

In summary, “We do our best to tier guys and then go hunting and be super deliberate about the guys in each of those pools that we recruit really hard.”

Pope has three assistants who will be helping him on the recruiting trail, two of which are seen as two of the best recruiters in all of college basketball, Alvin Brooks and Jason Hart.

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Brooks comes from Baylor, and his father was the Director of Basketball Operations at Kentucky under Billy Gillespie. Pope calls him: “One of the elite recruiters in all of college basketball, because he builds these super, super deep, meaningful relationships with guys.”

Brooks was responsible for recruiting the likes of Keyonte George, Ja’Kobe Walter, and VJ Edgecombe to Baylor, and is already eyeing two five-star Nike EYBL standouts from Texas to come to Kentucky, Hudson Greer and Shelton Anderson.

As for Hart, he is a former ten-year NBA veteran (player) who was most recently the head coach for the G League Ignite. Before that, he was the associate head coach at USC (2013-21) where he helped recruit some of the best talent in the country and put a half dozen players in the NBA.

“You’re not going to meet a better person in the world than Jason Hart,” Pope said. “He’s got an energy that’s contagious, and he’s really smart and he could spend all day every day in the gym because of how much he loves the game.”

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The third and last recruiting assistant is Cody Fueger, who has been with Pope at Utah Valley and BYU. He is someone that Pope trusts and has worked

“Cody has just been grinding, getting great talent to some of the hardest places in the world to recruit,” Pope said. “So now he’s coming at this from a much different angle: ‘This is easy compared to what I’ve been doing.’ Because it’s Kentucky. And we say that every day: It’s Kentucky.”

Kentucky Insider has talked to one of Pope’s teammates and a fellow coach, Scott Padgett, who is confident that Pope will prove himself as a capable recruiter given his positive attitude, charisma, and worth ethic.

All three have been apparent to Kentucky fans early, and with a talented staff around him, Pope is going to purse the best of the best. As recruiting begins to ramp up with the 2025 class, we will see who that first player is.

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Top Transfer Portal Prospect Chaz Lanier to Visit Kentucky on Monday

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One of the best scorers in the transfer portal, North Florida transfer Chaz Lanier will visit Kentucky.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Pope has filled 11 of 13 scholarship spots on his first Kentucky roster. With just two spots remaining, he is targeting two of the top scorers in the portal, Jaxson Robinson, who played for him last season at BYU, and North Florida transfer Chaz Lanier.

The latter will arrive in Lexington on Sunday night for a visit, first reported by 247Sports, and will visit through Monday. Lanier will be coming off a weekend visit to BYU and is expected to schedule a visit to his home state school of Tennessee soon.

Just a few weeks ago, Lanier, a Nashville native and former Mr. Tennessee basketball finalist, was believed to be a Tennessee lock. After multiple conversations with the Kentucky staff, they are believed to be the leader. This visit is a big opportunity to lock up that recruitment.

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Lanier is a 6-4 four-guard from North Florida University, averaged 19.7 points per game with 4.8 assists, shooting an efficient 51% field goal percentage and 44% from 3-point range last season. This play earned him first-team all-conference honors in the A-SUN.

This would be a massive addition for Mark Pope and Kentucky, as Linear was viewed as one of the best scorers and shooters in all of college basketball last season. According to 247Sports, Lanier is the 11th-ranked transfer in the portal, while ESPN has him 42nd.

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