Mark Pope to meet with former Kentucky recruit Jayden Quaintance. Could he stick with UK?

As Mark Pope’s 2024-25 Kentucky basketball roster continues to take shape, there’s a new player possibility for UK fans to consider.

Could a five-star former Kentucky basketball signee end up sticking with UK and Pope?

According to On3’s Jamie Shaw, Pope had an in-home visit scheduled for Tuesday with Jayden Quaintance, a class of 2024 center who was previously signed to play at Kentucky under former head coach John Calipari.

Quaintance — a 6-foot-9 center who isn’t eligible for the NBA draft until 2026 because of his age — was one of five players from UK’s six-player 2024 recruiting class that decommitted from the Wildcats after the coaching change that saw Calipari leave for Arkansas and Pope hired to replace him.

Since reopening his recruitment, Quaintance has taken a recruiting visit to Louisville. He’s also expected to visit Memphis.

Quaintance was expected to meet with Calipari and the Arkansas program, but that’s no longer the case. As first reported by Eric Bossi of 247Sports on Tuesday afternoon, Arkansas is no longer under consideration for Quaintance, who was the youngest McDonald’s All-American in history earlier this year.

“... I get the same experience for both years that a lot of players don’t get. So it’s definitely an exciting opportunity for sure,” Quaintance said during McDonald’s All-American Game media day earlier this year of his planned two-year stay in college.

Quaintance was one of three UK signees (along with Somto Cyril and Boogie Fland) to ask out of a national letter of intent with UK. Karter Knox (who committed to Arkansas on Monday night) and Billy Richmond were verbal pledges to UK who backed off their commitments.

Also on Monday night, in-state guard and UK signee Travis Perry confirmed he would be coming to Lexington to play for Pope, who was previously the head coach at both BYU and Utah Valley.

Quaintance committed to Kentucky in November over Missouri, the only other finalist in his recruitment. Originally from Ohio, Quaintance closed his prep basketball career at Word of God Christian Academy. The Raleigh, North Carolina, school also produced UK one-and-done star John Wall.

The floor-spacing big man is ranked as a five-star recruit and the No. 8 overall prospect in the 2024 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite. This made Quaintance the highest-ranked recruit in UK’s 2024 class, before that group fell apart.

According to ESPN’s final class of 2024 high school recruiting rankings (released Tuesday morning), Quaintance is the No. 16 overall player in the class.

Quaintance, who is 16 and won’t turn 17 until July, reclassified from the 2025 to the 2024 recruiting group last summer.

His inside-out offensive game figures to fit well with the offensive approach Pope’s teams have used at BYU and Utah Valley. The Cougars attempted 32 3-pointers per game last season (the second-most in the country) and ran much of their offense through 6-foot-11 center Aly Khalifa, who was known for his passing ability.

Also a floor-spacing threat, Khalifa averaged a career-best four assists per game last season with BYU and had the 34th-best assist rate (calculated as a player’s assists divided by the field goals made by a player’s teammates while he is on the court) in the country.

Jayden Quaintance of the Word Of God Christian Academy Holy Rams shoots a free throw during an Overtime Elite league game on Feb. 17, 2023, at OTE Arena in Atlanta.
Jayden Quaintance of the Word Of God Christian Academy Holy Rams shoots a free throw during an Overtime Elite league game on Feb. 17, 2023, at OTE Arena in Atlanta.


It’s been a tremendously active week-plus for Pope as he continues to build his first UK basketball roster from scratch.

Aaron Bradshaw (Ohio State), Joey Hart (Ball State) and Zvonimir Ivisic (Arkansas) are players from the 2023-24 Kentucky squad that will transfer to new schools. Additionally, Jordan Burks, Adou Thiero and D.J. Wagner are still in the NCAA transfer portal.

Thiero has a return to Kentucky among his final five options. The other schools on his list are Arkansas (where he’d rejoin Calipari), Indiana, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Also from last season’s team, Rob Dillingham, Justin Edwards, Ugonna Onyenso and Reed Sheppard have declared for the 2024 NBA draft. Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves have exhausted their college eligibility.

Collin Chandler, a combo guard and former BYU signee, announced last week he would be following Pope to Kentucky. Chandler was a four-star prospect in the 2022 recruiting class before taking a two-year mission trip. Kentucky officially announced Chandler’s arrival on Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, Pope made his first transfer portal addition of the offseason: Former Drexel big man Amari Williams committed to UK.

On Monday night, Perry — the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky high school boys basketball history — confirmed his commitment to Pope and the Wildcats.

That puts the UK basketball roster for next season at three scholarship players.

College basketball players have until May 1 to enter the transfer portal. The early-entry deadline for the 2024 NBA draft is April 27, and players who enter the draft with remaining NCAA eligibility will have until May 29 to remove their names from consideration and return to school.

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