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Men's Basketball

Mitch Barnhart Addresses Relationship with John Calipari, Responds to Claims of Hampering Basketball Program



On Thursday, some damning claims were released against Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, leaked some information coming from the Kentucky men’s basketball program, that was concerning.

According to Tucker, Barnhart and Calipari’s divide has grown deeper and suggests that Barnhart has hampered the Kentucky basketball program behind the scenes. The article alleges that Barnhart: told Calipari not to apologize following “basketball school” comments; refuses to proceed with planning a practice facility, with Calipari raising ~$30 million in pledges; declined Calipari’s request for additional support staff.

On Friday morning, after receiving emails for “24-48 hours”, Barnhart went on Kentucky Sports Radio to respond to the claims. Here is what he had to say.


On the current basketball season and where the basketball program stands

“Obviously, we all want to win. Our coaches are fully engaged in that. As I look back at March of last year we were 26-7 and one win away from being a one-seed. Had a National Player of the Year… We’re not where we want to be, no one is.

Cal is a Hall of Fame coach and he has been unbelievable in the past of finding a way to get our team better as we go through the season… I have seen Cal do this many, many times… I have confidence in this guy. He has done it before, and he can do it again.”

Are there changes the basketball program needs to make?

“I have never micromanaged our coaches. They are the CEO’s of their shift. I don’t get into the daily grind of how they prepare. That’s what they do, that’s what they are paid to do, and they do it well… I am confident that Cal knows the buttons to push to get us in the right spot.”

Is true that John Calipari has $30 million in pledges for a new practice facility, and have you told him “no’?

“If you look at our history, we’ve done almost half a billion dollars in capital construction since I have come on as Athletic Director for all of our sports programs, including basketball on multiple fronts. That does not include the almost $200 million dollar renovation of Rupp Arena. That is not my DNA to turn away help or capital construction.


Those are also “hopes”. When say you have $30 million dollars, you think you can do $30 million dollars. Those are not pledges in hand… Those processes in construction are 18-24 month processes… to go through design, group funding, the approvals through the trustees and the state, as well as shoveling ground and get it going.

We also have to make sure we are in cahoots with the master plan of the University for spacing as well as Title IX and gender equity… That facility is probably a $75-$80 million dollar facility. You’re not even halfway home… Even if we had pledges in hand, it is not going to allow you to start building. We are not against facility expansion.

We have had conversations about a facility. He [Cal] would like to have a new facility. I get that. At the end of the day, there is a significant process and we have explained that to everyone.

*KSR’s Matt Jones asks Barnhart if he explicitly told Calipari “no.”*

It wasn’t “no”, it was here is the process.


On if he told Calipari not to apologize following the “basketball school” comments

“I was coming back from off the road and I said, ‘Lets stop the chatter’. We didn’t need to get into more public debate. I wanted the two guys to be able to work to get put it behind them. For them to visit and move on. They have done that. Both have said they talked, it’s behind them. That is where we are.

*KSR’s Matt Jones asks Barnhart if he explicitly told Calipari that he could not apologize.*

Yeah, I did say ‘stop the chatter’. No, I didn’t say no one couldn’t apologize. I would hope, absolutely, that my two most high-profile coaches are on the same page and moving forward.”

On if the press conference with Stoops was a good idea just days following the “basketball school” comments

Hindsight is always 20/20. At the time, I didn’t think it was healthy. I always take the podium in the fall when we begin our season, usually the same day as fan day. However, I was at CFP or SEC meetings. I came back and said I will my normal deal that I normally do and address some of this stuff.

We are a big ol’ family. If you don’t think families have squabbles from time to time, you’re wrong… At the end of the day, I do know one thing. I do know how much Mark Stoops loves Kentucky… I know that Cal loves Kentucky… I know I love Kentucky… I know with some of the venom from the emails I have gotten in the last 24-48 hours, people wish I wasn’t from here. That’s okay, they have the right to that… We want to make Kentucky the best we can.”


On if Calipari has requested additional support staff

“I don’t know. Again, I am not going to micromanage his staff. Cal has done this for four decades. He knows what he needs to move forward. If he has some requests or things that he needs on staffing issues, I thought we. [stops]

We made some staffing adjustments over the last couple years. I have tried to fulfill those as we can. There’s some new legislation passed by the NCAA… a conversation about volunteer coaches. You can have volunteers but they must be paid. Everyone nationally is going to have to take a new look and adapt.

I think we have been helpful to that. I don’t know that any request that has come, we have not tried to be helpful. I will always be helpful in that. I will always try to give our coaches what they need. We have done that in every sport.”

On his relationship with Calipari.

“We talk all the time. I visit with him after every game. I sit in his office and we chat about what’s going on at the game. My closing question is, ‘what can I do to help you?’ And that doesn’t make it a perfect relationship. Do we share coffee time every day or do we go to dinner often? No, it’s not. I don’t do that with most of my coaches, I’d say hardly any of my coaches. I let them do their deals.


They have all-consuming jobs. And I think it’s important that there’s a little bit of separation there for them to do that. But I will check in frequently and just say, ‘Man, what’s going on,’ stick my nose in. I have watched practice from up above in the observatory on many occasions.

At the end of the day, I do care deeply about Cal. I want to make sure that he knows how much we appreciate what he’s done here and I want him to know, man that this is probably one of the top five or six hardest jobs and all of college sports and certainly, it’s one of the top most pressure-packed jobs of sports in general. And so yeah, I want him to know I care.

I don’t think it’s for anybody on the outside to judge my relationship with him. That’s for him and me and if it works for us, then like any other marriage, sometimes marriages look different for different people. They work in different ways. And the way some people have managed their relationship is much different from others, but ours has worked for 13 years. Doing pretty good. And because we’re going through a rough patch, all of a sudden we have a marriage that’s in disarray, and I would disagree wholeheartedly with that.”

The full interview can be listened to below, starting at the 23:41 mark.


Men's Basketball

Kentucky Basketball Hiring Top Assistant Coach Alvin Brooks III from Baylor



Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky may not have been able to pull Scott Drew away from Baylor, but they were able to pull Alvin Brooks III, one of the best assistant coaches in the country. First reported by CBS Sports on Wednesday morning, Brooks has accepted an associate head coach position at Kentucky, the same role in which he had at Baylor.

Brooks comes to Kentucky with a great reputation as a recruiter, helping Baylor bring in some elite talent over the last couple of seasons, most notably, McDonald’s All-Americans VJ Edgecombe (2024), Ja’Kobe Walter (2023), and Keyonte George (2022).

Just 44 years old, Brooks has two decades of coaching experience. Before his time at Baylor he also had stops at Kansas State (2012-16), Sam Houston State (2010-12), Bradley (2007-10), Midland (2006-07), and Arkansas-Fort Smith (2004-06).


Brooks spoke with Kentucky Insider earlier this month about Kentucky’s hire of Mark Pope, as someone who competed against him at BYU. He spoke highly of the hire, specifically of his Xs and Os, and saw “no negatives”.

Interestingly, he will not be the first Alvin Brooks to be a part of the Kentucky Basketball program as his father was the Director of Operations from 2007-09 under Billy Gillispie. Brooks joins an assembled staff of Cody Fueger, Jason Hart, and Mark Fox, leaving just one assistant spot remaining which likely won’t come soon.

That said, the concern with Pope was his recruiting ability. With Hart and now Brooks, he has addressed that concern and has added two of the best recruiters in the country.

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BB Recruiting

Transfer Amari Williams Commits to Kentucky



Drexel transfer Amari Williams has committed to play for the Kentucky Wildcats. Becomes first transfer commitment under Mark Pope.
Graphic via ClutchPoints

Amari Williams has made his decision. He has committed to the Wildcats, first reported by Joe Tipton of On3.

Williams’ decision comes after visiting Lexington this past weekend. On all accounts and given his commitment, all things went well, even taking a visit to Keeneland with new head coach Mark Pope.

Originally from Nottingham, England, Williams has played the last four years at Drexel. He has career averages of 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.


From his sophomore season forward, Williams has been named to the All-Coastal Athletic Association Team three times and has won three straight CAA Defensive Player of the Year Awards.

The 6-foot-10, 265-pound forward is a physical big. On the offensive end, he scores most of his points at the rim, many of which come in transition or off offensive rebounds, but he is also comfortable extending to the elbow. He is a better passer than one would expect as well, with an 18% assist rate.

As his Defensive Player of the Year awards suggest, Williams makes his biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball. With a 7-foot-5 wingspan, he blocks plenty of shots (8.5% block rate) and alters many more. His physical size and length help him rebound the ball well.

Both were areas Kentucky lacked in last season.


If you’re an analytical guy, Williams has been a top-20 player in player efficiency ratings the previous two seasons, with a 28.5 PER each season.

For reference, Kentucky’s most efficient players last season, Reed Sheppard and Antonio Reeves, both had a PER of 23.6.

Evan Miya, one of the best analytics gurus in college hoops, has Williams ranked 14th overall in DBPR for next season, which measures the defensive value a player brings to his team when he is on the court. So Kentucky just landed one of the best defensive transfers in America.

With his commitment, Williams becomes Kentucky’s first transfer under Mark Pope and just the second commitment overall, joining Collin Chandler, a 4-star recruit of the 2022 class returning from a mission trip this summer.


It’s worth noting that he played alongside fellow Kentucky target and Utah State transfer Great Osobor in England. Could the two join forces in Lexington as Kentucky’s frontcourt?

Check out some highlights of the newest Cat in action!

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BB Recruiting

What Transfers Has Mark Pope Reached Out To?



New Kentucky head coach Mark Pope has already started to put in work on the recruiting trail and transfer portal in his first couple of days.
IMAGN/USA Today Pictures

New Kentucky head coach Mark Pope has been in Lexington for only a couple of days, but he has already started putting in work on the recruiting trail, especially in the transfer portal. Kentucky is expected to have a much older team this upcoming season, with only one remaining signee in their recruiting class, Travis Perry.

On his first radio show on Monday, Pope said he is searching for great players with “epic talent”, but also players that fit. “It’s not about going out and getting the most raw talent, it’s getting the pieces to form a team that can be dangerous.”

Just a few days into his tenure, here is a list of who Pope has contacted thus far.


Koby Brea – Guard, Dayton

Physicals: 6-6, 205 lbs
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 51.6% FG, 49.8% 3P
Ranking: 67th (Evan Miya), Not yet listed (247Sports)

One of the best shooters in college basketball last season, Brea shot almost 50% from three. What is even more impressive is that he did so on high volume, averaging more than six three-pointers per game. Also in various ways, spot-ups, off screens, in transition. While his shooting is his clear strength, he was also efficient around the rim, shooting 65 percent.

An elite shooter like Brea would strive in Pope’s five-out offensive system.

Otega Oweh – Guard, Oklahoma

Physicals: 6-5, 215 lbs
Stats: 11.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 49.3% FG, 37.7% 3P
Ranking: 32nd (Evan Miya), 21st (247Sports)


A strong and athletic wing, Oweh is one of the best two-way players in the portal. He is at his best when attacking the basket, but has significantly improved his shooting. After making just 1 of 4 three attempts his freshman season, he was 20-53 (37.7%) in his sophomore campaign. On the defensive end, Oweh’s size and athleticism allow him to be effective on and off the ball.

With his ball handling and attacking ability, Oweh would have enough space to create for himself and others, and has enough shooting to keep defenses honest.

Jeremy Roach – Guard, Duke

Physicals: 6-2, 180 lbs
Stats: 14.0 PPG, 3.3 APG, 46.8% FG, 42.9% 3P
Ranking: 20th (Evan Miya), not yet listed (247Sports)

One of the best guards to enter the portal, Jeremy Roach has been a four-year starter for Duke and is looking for a change of scenery for his last season of eligibility. With a solid frame, Roach is considered a true point guard with a good feel for operating the offense.


While his playmaking has long been a strength, he has improved his scoring averages and three-pointing year after year, averaging 14.0 points on shooting 42.9 percent from deep this last season.

Kentucky is reported to be amongst the leaders for Roach, along with Arkansas (Calipari) and St. John’s (Pitino). Oh, the drama.

Cade Tyson – Guard, Belmont

Physicals: 6-7, 205 lbs
Stats: 16.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 49.3% FG, 46.5% 3P
Ranking: 74th (Evan Miya), 20th (247Sports)

Tyson was the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year last season and Second Team All-Conference this season after averaging 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He did that on 46.5% shooting from three.


Tyson is one of the most sought-after players in the portal due to his efficient shooting. WHile Kentucky has thrown their hat into the ring under Calipari, and now Pope, this looks to be a race between Tennessee and North Carolina.

Great Osobor – Forward, Utah State

Physicals: 6-8, 250 lbs
Stats: 17.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 57.7% FG
Ranking: 41st (Evan Miya), 7th (247Sports)

Nearly averaging a double-double this past season for Utah State, earning him Mountain West Player of the Year and All-American honorable mention honors, Osobor is one of the most sought-after transfer bigs in the country.

Similar to Oscar Tshiebe, Osobor may not have the height, but he has a strong build and is a tenacious rebounder. Pope hopes his connections in Utah can bring him to Lexington.


Brendan Hausen – Guard, Villanova

Physicals: 6-4, 205 lbs
Stats: 6.2 PPG, 38.1% 3P
Ranking: 163rd (Evan Miya), 79th (247Sports)

Mark Pope is taskedd with filling out a full roster and he could add an excellent supporting piece in Hausen. Playing the past two seasons for Villanova, Hausen came of the bench scoring just 4.7 points, but on 39.5 percent shooting.

Jakobe Coles – Forward, TCU

Physicals: 6-8, 215 lbs
Stats: 10.0, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 49.0% FG, 42.2% 3P
Ranking: 46th (Evan Miya), 198th (247Sports)

Coles led his team in three-point percentage at 42.2%. Although it wasn’t a high volume of threes, the numbers are still there. He is a very physical big man. Averaged 20 minutes per game, with some solid contributions.


The big man has heard from Kentucky, SMU (who he recently visited), Auburn, Grand Canyon, and Mississippi State the most among the others who have reached out.

Aidan Mahaney – Guard, Saint Mary’s

Physicals: 6-3, 180 lbs
Stats: 13.9 PPG, 2.6 APG, 38.6% FG, 35.5% 3P
Ranking: 81st (Evan Miya), 14th (247Sports)

One of the best guards in the portal. As a lead guard dor Saint Mary’s, he displayed a good sense of playing under control, setting himself up and others. That said, his numbers were rather inefficient as the primary scoring option for the Gaels and shooting more than half of his shots from three.

Javon Small – Guard, Oklahoma State

Physicals: 6-3, 195 lbs
Stats: 15.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.1 APG, 44.1% FG, 37.4% 3P
Ranking: 133rd (Evan Miya), 8th (247Sports)


Small has proven himself as one of the best playmakers in college basketball, at the mid major level at East Carolina, and last season in the Big 12 for Oklahoma State, being in the top ten in both scoring and assists per game.

Small is looking for significant NIL money, and Kentucky may be willing to give him that.

Kris Parker – Guard, Alabama

Physicals: 6-9, 195 lbs
Stats: N/A
Ranking: Not yet listed

Parker was a four-star recruit going into Alabama last season, but redshirted. Looking back at his high school career, Parker averaged 24.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.4 blocks per game during his senior year at Crossroad Academy.


Andrej Stojakovic – Forward, Stanford

Physicals: 6-7, 190 lbs
Stats: 7.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 APG, 40.9% FG, 32.7% 3P
Ranking: 165th (Evan Miya), 38th (247Sports)

Stojakovic is the son of former NBA All-Star, Peja Stojakovic. A familiar name for Kentucky fans from his high school recruitment. Stojakovic is a terrific shooter, and a top-25 recruit in the 2023 class.

He will be taking a visit to California this weekend.

David Coit – Guard, Northern Illinois

Physicals: 5-11, 175 lbs
Stats: 20.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 40.7% FG, 33.7% FG
Ranking: 369th (Evan Miya), 294th (247Sports)


Coit is one of top scorers in the nation from this past season. A very high-volume scorer and shooter, Coit earned some All-MAC honors in his time at NIU. He is an interesting option with new Kentucky head coach Mark Pope and his offensive philosophy.

A really good scorer, and has a long list of suitors.

Baba Miller – Forward, Florida State

Physicals: 6-11, 204 lbs
Stats: 7.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 44.9% FG, 29.3% 3P
Ranking: 113th (Evan Miya), 97th (247Sports)

Originally from Spain, Miller had a tough freshman campaign at Florida State but regained form as a sophomore. Miller was a long time guard until he hit a big growth spurt, going from 6-2 to 6-11, but retaining his guard skills. A big with perimeter skills in Pope’s “modern” five-out offense. That’s a good fit.


Aly Khalifa – Forward, BYU

Physicals: 6-11, 270 lbs
Stats: 5.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.0 APG, 38.6% FG, 31.5% 3P
Ranking: 12th (Evan Miya), 132nd (247Sports)

One of Mark Pope’s former players is in the transfer portal, and is considering Kentucky along with Louisville, as well as a return to BYU. Khalifa is seen as one of the best passing big men in college basketball.

Khalifa visited Louisville over the weekend. He could be taking a visit to Kentucky soon. It makes as the first Kentucky-Louisville recruiting battle of the Mark Pope era.

Amari Williams – Forward, Drexel

Physicals: 6-10, 265 lbs,
Stats: 12.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 51.7% FG, 33.3% 3P
Ranking: 102nd (Evan Miya), 58th (247Sports)


Williams takes pride in defense, as he is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. He will be taking a visit to Kentucky from April 21-22. In addition to his defensive accolades, he was also named First-Team All-CAA last season.

The forward will also take visits to Indiana, Creighton, and St. John’s.

Jaxson Robinson – Guard, BYU

Physicals: 6-7, 190 lbs
Stats: 14.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 42.6% FG, 35.4% 3P
Ranking: Not yet in the portal

Robinson isn’t a confirmed target, but he has been rumored as someone to follow his former coach to Kentucky, seen as BYU’s best player last season. He hasn’t officially entered the portal, but the buzz has been growing. Made louder when he reposted Mark Pope’s introductory press conference.


Similar to Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard last season, Robinson was BYU’s best player off the bench, winning Sixth Man of the Year in the Big 12. Robinson does have a second-round draft grade, but Pope will likely try to sell him on NIL and the platform of playing at Kentucky. He would bring leadership and experience already playing Pope’s system at BYU.

Portal season is far from over, just getting into the thick of things with the offseason frenzy, even more so for Kentucky this year. Mark Pope will work to finalize a staff in the coming days and build a roster almost from scratch.

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