Kentucky basketball is nothing if not well-funded. The Wildcats have already landed on their feet after losing championship-winning head coach John Calipari.

Following their hire of BYU's Mark Pope on Friday, Kentucky is apparently receiving $4 million in additional NIL backing, via Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio. The sizable donation comes from two separate donors, and it gives Pope one of the best budgets in the country to work with. Will the Wildcats be able to return to the top in their new era?

Kentucky basketball will continue to benefit from NIL

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope keeps an eye on the action in the first half Duquesne Dukes during the first round of the NCAA Tournament at CHI Health Center Omaha.
© Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

To put this into perspective, Kansas led the NCAA in NIL payroll with over $4 million spent. While Arkansas is raising the bar this season with at least $5 million in funds this year following Calipari's arrival, Kentucky's budget will still be near the top, via On3.

The influx of cash is meant to help with recruiting efforts, as the Wildcats' roster next season is largely a question mark. Kentucky originally had the No. 2-ranked incoming recruiting class, but it's already lost three of those players following Calipari's departure.

The Wildcats still have three four-star players committed. Point guards Boogie Fland and Travis Perry are ranked second and sixth nationally at the position, respectively. Unlike them, shooting guard Billy Richmond hasn't signed his Letter of Intent, but he's still a “hard commit.” Richmond ranks eighth at his position.

Even after losing three recruits, Kentucky's class still ranks 10th on 247 Sports' Composite Rankings. However, it's unknown at this point if the remaining three players on their list will stay.

Regardless, Mark Pope will have to heavily work the transfer portal to fill out the roster. This is where the NIL money will especially come in handy, as it's now very late in the game to focus on high school prospects for next season. While Pope could bring over his incoming recruits from BYU, it's hardly a star-studded group. The 67th-ranked ranked class featured just two players, both ranked as three-star prospects.

However, shooting guard Collin Chandler could be a sneaky-good pickup for Kentucky, as he was originally committed to BYU before going on a two-year church mission in 2022. Regardless, Chandler's future plans are still unknown, despite his connection to Pope. He could feasibly want to stay home and remain at BYU.

Even with all of these question marks, all is certainly not lost for Kentucky. The Wildcats' budget could help them land some big names. Hunter Dickinson's move from Michigan to Kansas last year is a prime example of a mammoth transfer portal NIL deal, as the star center secured around $586,000. Look for Kentucky to be similarly aggressive as they cope with the losses of freshmen Justin Edwards and Rob Dillingham, who each declared for the NBA Draft.

Another developing story is Pope's active recruitment of Reed Sheppard, another standout freshman for the Wildcats last season. His father Jeff Sheppard confirmed that Pope has been in contact with the family, and Reed has still yet to decide whether he'll stay or declare for the draft, via Lindsay Gough of WKYT. Jeff and Pope were college teammates and roommates at Kentucky.

Pope certainly has his work cut out for him, but Wildcats fans have no reason to fear. The program's vast resources will ensure that the team maintains a talented roster annually, no matter who the coach is.