Mark Pope, who is awaiting word from his three main transfer targets—Chaz Lanier, Wooga Poplar, and Jaxson Robinson—has been busy flying to Chicago for the G-League Elite Camp and NBA Draft Combine.

Mark Pope has been in Chicago most of the week, watching his three key targets try their luck in the NBA. Kentucky still has three scholarship seats available on their roster. Pope reportedly attended to observe Wooga Poplar of Miami and Chaz Lanier of North Florida, who participated in the G-League Elite Camp before this week’s NBA Draft Combine.


Mark Pope 'couldn't be more excited' about Kentucky roster that 'fits  brilliantly'

He is now back watching his old teammate, Jaxson Robinson, who led his BYU Cougars to an average of 14.2 points per game last season as the Big 12 sixth-man of the year, compete in the Combine.

Kentucky received positive news when neither Lanier nor Poplar were selected from the Elite Camp to participate in the Combine. Despite this setback to their NBA aspirations, neither player has officially announced a return to college basketball in 2024. However, there could still be NBA teams interested in drafting them in the second round based on their Elite Camp performances.

Robinson, meanwhile, showcased his skills on the big stage in Chicago. On Tuesday, with his former and potentially future coach in attendance, he played in a scrimmage for Team Herscu. Robinson started the game, scoring 10 points on 3-9 shooting with two rebounds, one assist, and one turnover in 21 minutes.


Former Kentucky basketball player and new head coach Mark Pope

Mark Pope urgently needs a wing scorer to complete Kentucky’s roster in Lexington. While Lanier might be the most preferable and seamless replacement for Antonio Reeves, who is excelling in Chicago, any of the three remaining portal targets could elevate Kentucky to a true Final Four contender.

It’s unlikely that more than one of Robinson, Lanier, and Poplar will become Wildcats, but with their draft stock seemingly stagnant, it’s looking more likely that Pope might secure one of these highly coveted players.

Pope went to Chicago to support his former player, but if Robinson has to delay his NBA dreams by a year, Pope would be more than happy to bring him to Lexington. With a $2 million NIL deal reportedly attracting former Kentucky target Great Osobor to follow his former coach Danny Sprinkle to Washington, professional basketball is no longer the only path to financial reward.


Kentucky Basketball: Mark Pope staying patient with final coaching staff  hire - A Sea Of Blue

Kentucky’s roster is nearly complete, giving Pope the advantage of waiting for crucial NBA decisions. However, once the combine concludes on May 19, Pope’s staff and Kentucky’s NIL collective will need to act quickly to ensure that the final roster spots are filled with quality veterans, ideally one of the three players the head coach followed to Chicago this week.

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