Kentucky basketball coach Mark Pope is very excited about his team's latest addition. Pope is dropping rave reviews about the Wildcats' latest transfer, Ansley Almonor. Almonor previously played for Fairleigh Dickinson before committing to Kentucky basketball from the transfer portal.

“Ansley is one of the best shooting mid-major bigs out there and he is a tremendous mover without the basketball. He’s a fearless competitor with great leadership qualities,” Pope said, per Sports Illustrated. “Ansley is a finance major who comes from an unbelievable family from Haiti. He’s a great addition to this roster as a veteran presence with a lot of college basketball under his belt.”

Almonor averaged 16 points and 5 rebounds last season, per Sports Illustrated. He played in 32 games for Fairleigh Dickinson in 2023-24. He has played three years of college basketball, and averaged double-figures in scoring the last two years. Almonor is a 6-foot-7 inch forward, who also shot 44 percent from the field last year.

The forward is considered a high-octane scorer. He has already recorded more than 1,000 career points in three seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson. Almonor saw his three-point field goal percentage increase each year. He shot 39 percent from the perimeter last year, and Kentucky could surely use that kind of production this coming season. The Wildcats are looking for a deep NCAA tournament run in 2024-25.

Kentucky's rebuilding offseason

University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and new men’s basketball coach Mark Pope hold a new basketball jersey up during Pope’s press conference on Sunday, April 14, 2024.
Clare Grant/Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

Kentucky basketball has been building again this offseason, as Mark Pope takes over the program from John Calipari. Pope is building the Kentucky roster through transfers and experience. Almonor is one of several players from the portal who have committed to the Wildcats for the 2024-25 season.

Kentucky has eight transfers arriving in Lexington, with more likely to come. The class includes four-star players Kerr Kriisa, Koby Brea, Andrew Carr and Lamont Butler Jr. The Wildcats have one of the top 10 transfer classes in college basketball, per 247 Sports. Pope comes to Kentucky from BYU, where he led the Cougars to the NCAA tournament in their first season playing in the Big 12 Conference. Pope is a former Kentucky basketball player, who won a national championship with the 1996 team coached by Rick Pitino.

Kentucky's recruiting trail is now focusing more on experience, rather than freshmen blue-chip players. Under Calipari, Kentucky had enormous success grabbing one-and-done players. But the Wildcats stumbled in the NCAA tournament in their last three appearances, winning only one game in that period. This offseason, Calipari left to coach Arkansas, as many fans were hoping for a fresh start under a new coach. Calipari took with him several Kentucky commits, including high school phenom Boogie Fland.

Time will tell how well the new Kentucky basketball roster fits together. It was recently announced that Kentucky and Arkansas will play only once this season, and Big Blue Nation is certainly looking forward to that game.