Mark Pope and the Kentucky basketball program are revamping their roster for the 2024-25 season. The departure of John Calipari and the 2024 NBA Draft have seen several players make migrate to and from the team. However, Pope and the Wildcats received huge news from former BYU basketball guard Jaxson Robinson on Thursday.

Jaxson Robinson is withdrawing from the 2024 NBA Draft and has decided to follow his former head coach to Kentucky, per ESPN's Jeff Borzello. Robinson played for Mark Pope during his last two seasons at BYU and saw significant improvement.

After averaging 8.5 points per game during the 2022-23 season, Robinson lept to a 14.2 scoring mark during his last season with the Cougars. Furthermore, he incrementally increased his three-point shooting percentage from 34.3 to 35.4 within the year's time.

Jaxson Robinson's stout offensive offensive ability should be a great help to Mark Pope's squad. Kentucky lost several scoring threats after the 2023-24 season. Most notably, freshmen Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham entered and stayed in the 2024 NBA Draft after amassing SEC All-Freshman honors. In addition, former five-star recruit DJ Wagner left the Wildcats to join John Calipari at Arkansas.

Nevertheless, Kentucky is forming a respectable team that looks to see the team continue to compete with the best in the country. The 2024-25 Kentucky squad will feature an outstanding leader in Mark Pope, who hails from an impressive five-year tenure with the BYU basketball program.

Kentucky basketball wants to remain a national force amid changes 

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 found an admirable John Calipari successor with Pope. He earned the head coaching job over several rumored candidates including Auburn's Bruce Pearl and Alabama's Nate Oats. Pope is no stranger to Kentucky basketball culture. He was a member of the Wildcats' national title team from 1996. After taking up coaching, he became one of the most respected minds in college basketball. He eventually joined BYU in 2019 and helped the team reach great heights.

Pope achieved a 110-51 record as Head Coach of the Cougars, including a 66-12 home record at the Marriot Center. BYU had two NCAA Tournament appearances during Pope's five-year tenure. In 2021, the Cougars earned the No. 6 seed in the East region but lost 73-62 to a talented UCLA team in the first round.

Later, Pope helped lead the team to another sixth-seeded showing in the 2024 March Madness bracket. His squad fought hard but lost 71-67 to Duquesne in another first-round exit.

Pope's coaching efforts have not gone without recognition. He was named to the Naismith Coach of the Late Season Watchlist in 2023-24 after leading the Cougars to a 23-11 record and the program's 31st total NCAA Tournament showing.

BYU navigated the challenges that came with changing conferences in 2023. After spending several years in the West Coast Conference, the program joined the ranks of the Big 12, where they competed respectably. Pope's squad finished fifth in the conference standings. They also earned notable wins against previously ranked No. 7 Kansas, No. 11 Baylor, and No. 24 Iowa.

Mark Pope looks to translate his BYU success to the Wildcats as they look to stay at the top of the SEC and the college basketball landscape. Jaxson Robinson's commitment should increase the chemistry between Pope and his squad, given the two are already familiar with each other.

It will be interesting to see Kentucky's other moves as they approach an exciting 2024-25 season.