It's a new dawn for the Kentucky Wildcats. The program has moved on from John Calipari who became the new head coach at Arkansas following another disappointing finish in the NCAA Tournament. Mark Pope is set to take the helm as head coach for the Wildcats for the 2024-25 season. It's been a busy offseason for Pope who has been tasked with reshaping the roster amid Calipari's departure. He's done well though via the transfer portal including Kentucky's latest addition in former Oklahoma State big man Brandon Garrison as per Tyler Thompson of On3 Sports.

The Wildcats had been active in the transfer portal for frontcourt help, and Brandon Garrison was one of the top options available. As per Thompson, Pope was intrigued by Garrison following a matchup against Oklahoma State last season when Pope was still head coach at BYU.

“Brandon's a McDonald's All-American and a FIBA U18 Americas gold medalist with Team USA who crushed me at BYU last year and crushed Coach [Alvin] Brooks at Baylor last year,” Pope said. “We're unbelievably glad he's on our team now. He's an incredible person with a brilliant, joyful smile that BBN will fall in love with. We're really excited about our front line and Brandon will be a key piece to it.”

Brandon Garrison strengthens Kentucky's frontcourt

One of the key areas of focus for the Wildcats this offseason has been the frontcourt. They've done well in the transfer portal to address that.

Oklahoma State Cowboys center Brandon Garrison (23) tries to get past Kansas Jayhawks center Hunter Dickinson (1) during a college basketball game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Kansas Jayhawks at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.

The Wildcats had picked up two of the top options at center who were in the transfer portal in former Drexel big man Amari Williams and former Wake Forest big man Andrew Carr. The addition of Brandon Garrison gives Kentucky a strong front line.

Garrison is coming off his freshman season at Oklahoma State where he was one of the top defensive players in the Big 12. He started 29 0f the 32 games he played in at a little over 22 minutes per game. He averaged 7.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocked shots with splits of 57.2 percent shooting from the field and 64.8 percent shooting from the free throw line.

In the game Pope mentioned between BYU and Oklahoma State, Garrison finished with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot in a win. He drew interest in the transfer portal from other top programs such as Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Mark Pope is putting his stamp on Kentucky's roster

When a head coach leaves a college basketball program, it's not surprising to see multiple players hit the transfer portal. That's exactly what happened with Kentucky following John Calipari's departure leaving Mark Pope to essentially build a team from scratch.

University of Kentucky’s new men’s basketball coach Mark Pope points to the championship banners as he speaks about the victories he will soon be adding to display.
Clare Grant/Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

With Travis Perry being the lone player out of six to remain from the team's 2024 recruiting class, the transfer portal has been the Wildcats means of adding talent. In addition to the aforementioned Garrison, Drexel and Carr, Kentucky has added former San Diego State guard Lamont Butler and former Oklahoma forward Otega Oweh. They also added former BYU commit Collin Chandler who has yet to make his NCAA debut as he's been a mission trip.