Calipari Already Has Foot in Door with These Transfer Portal Stars

John Calipari, Javian McCollum, Arkansas basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: Craven Whitlow / Oklahoma Athletics

The 2024-25 Arkansas basketball roster is a blank canvas for John Calipari.

Since the end of the season and in the immediate aftermath of Eric Musselman leaving for USC, every player with remaining eligibility has entered the transfer portal or declared for the NBA Draft and both of the Razorbacks’ incoming freshmen have been released from their letter of intent.

This level of turnover has been shocking to Arkansas fans, but it is not completely unprecedented. Just two years ago, LSU lost all of its scholarship players to the transfer portal or NBA Draft in the wake of Will Wade’s firing.

The Tigers struggled to a last-place finish in the SEC the ensuing season, but luckily for the Razorbacks, Calipari holds the paintbrush and will be in charge of rebuilding their roster — not Matt McMahon.

Calipari should be able to bring in an influx of talent never before seen in Fayetteville, as he produced 35 first-round draft picks during his time at Kentucky. That number doesn’t even include a pair of projected top-10 picks in this summer’s NBA Draft.

Needless to say, it should be an eventful and entertaining offseason, even when compared to the last few under Musselman.

Keep up with all of the movement on the Arkansas basketball roster below…

2024-25 Arkansas Basketball Roster

Scholarship Count: 2

Added by Calipari (2)

  • Zvonimir Ivisic – committed April 15 / signed April 17 (transfer from Kentucky)
  • Karter Knox – committed April 22

Holdovers (0)

  • None

With incoming freshman Isaiah Elohim asking to be released from his National Letter of Intent on April 8, the only returning Razorback for 2024-25 – as of now – is walk-on Lawson Blake. All 13 scholarships are open for John Calipari to fill.

Arkansas Basketball Departures

Out of Eligibility

  • Jeremiah Davenport
  • El Ellis
  • Jalen Graham
  • Chandler Lawson
  • Makhi Mitchell

Entered Transfer Portal

  • Khalif Battle
  • Layden Blocker
  • Davonte Davis
  • Baye Fall
  • Denijay Harris
  • Tramon Mark — committed to Texas
  • Keyon Menifield Jr.
  • Joseph Pinion — committed to Arkansas State

Declared for NBA Draft

  • Trevon Brazile

Released from NLI

  • Jalen Shelley
  • Isaiah Elohim

One of John Calipari’s first orders of business will be to determine which, if any, of the Arkansas basketball players in the transfer portal he’d want to bring back to Fayetteville.

Included in that group are the Razorbacks’ two leading scorers from this past season in Tramon Mark (16.2 ppg) and Khalif Battle (14.8 ppg). Mark has since committed to Texas, though. As for Battle, he told reporters following a win over LSU last month, “I’m a Razorback until the end.” Things have obviously changed since then, with Musselman leaving and him entering the portal, but based on his Twitter, Battle seems to still be paying attention to what’s going on in Fayetteville.

It will also be interesting to see what happens to the in-state players who went into the portal. Joseph Pinion has already committed to Arkansas State, but Davonte Davis and Layden Blocker are still in limbo. Calipari has seen quite a bit of Davis over the last four years, so he should have an idea of whether or not he wants to bring him back for a super senior season. Blocker was a highly touted recruit and showed flashes of his potential as a freshman last year.

Possible Additions for John Calipari

With an entire roster to fill, it’d be worthless to discuss the “needs” for next year’s Arkansas basketball team. Simply put, the Razorbacks need everything.

Luckily for them, John Calipari put together the No. 2 recruiting class in the country for 2024. Included in the six-man class are four five-star recruits and two four-star recruits. There is already plenty of speculation that he’s working to bring many of them with him to Fayetteville. A full list of those recruits can be found below.

Even if the Razorbacks get all of those recruits and retain a few of players from last year’s team, Calipari will have to lean on the transfer portal to fill out the rest of the roster. He has been criticized for his lack of use of the portal, but is on record saying he’ll use it more moving forward.

In fact, he had already started that process by reaching out to multiple transfer portal prospects while still at Kentucky. A look at those top targets can be found below, as well.

As with any coaching change, there’s also the possibility of current Kentucky players deciding to enter the transfer portal and follow their coach to Arkansas.

Considering he decided to leave the Wildcats before news broke that Calipari was joining the Razorbacks, it seems unlikely that sophomore forward Adou Thiero would join him in Fayetteville. However, some other players could be on the table.

Aaron Bradshaw, a top-5 recruit in the 2023 class, hit the transfer portal on April 8. He didn’t live up to expectations this season, eventually falling down the pecking order in Kentucky’s frontcourt, but is a 7-foot-1 big man with legitimate NBA potential.

Other Wildcats who aren’t expected to declare for the NBA Draft and have yet to announce their plans for next season are also listed below.

Current Kentucky Players

  • Aaron Bradshaw – entered transfer portal (April 8) – COMMITTED TO OHIO STATE
    • F | 7-1 | 226
    • Stats: 26 G/10 GS, 13.7 min., 4.9 pts. (57.6% FG, 56.8% FT), 3.3 reb.
    • Notes: Freshman last season… Ranked as high as No. 2 nationally in the 2023 class by Rivals
  • Zvonimir Ivisic – entered transfer portal (April 13) – COMMITTED TO ARKANSAS
    • F | 7-2 | 234
    • Stats: 15 G/0 GS, 11.7 min., 5.5 pts. (57.7% FG, 37.5% 3PT, 77.3% FT), 3.3 reb., 1.3 blk.
    • Notes: Freshman last season… Originally from Croatia… Didn’t become eligible until Jan. 20
  • D.J. Wagner – entered transfer portal (April 16)
    • G | 6-4 | 192
    • Stats: 29 G/28 GS, 25.8 min., 9.9 pts. (40.5% FG, 29.2% 3PT, 76.6% FT), 1.9 reb., 3.3 ast.
    • Notes: Freshman last season… SEC All-Freshman Team selection… Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree… McDonald’s All-American Game MVP… Ranked as high as No. 4 overall by ESPN and 247Sports… Father (Dajuan) and grandfather (Milt) played in the NBA… Dajuan Wagner played for Calipari at Memphis

Calipari Signees/Commits at Kentucky

  • Somto Cyril – center (asked to be released from NLI)
    • 247Sports: 4-star, No. 46 overall
    • ESPN: 4-star, No. 46 overall
    • On3: 4-star, No. 41 overall
    • Rivals: 4-star, No. 45 overall
  • Boogie Fland – guard (asked to be released from NLI)
    • 247Sports: 4-star, No. 26 overall
    • ESPN: 5-star, No. 15 overall
    • On3: 4-star, No. 21 overall
    • Rivals: 5-star, No. 10 overall
  • Karter Knox – forward (de-committed) – COMMITTED TO ARKANSAS
    • 247Sports: 4-star, No. 20 overall
    • ESPN: 4-star, No. 24 overall
    • On3: 4-star, No. 19 overall
    • Rivals: 5-star, No. 14 overall
  • Travis Perry – guard – STAYING AT KENTUCKY
    • 247Sports: 4-star, No. 73 overall
    • ESPN: 4-star, No. 71 overall
    • On3: 3-star, No. 123 overall
    • Rivals: 4-star, No. 93 overall
  • Jayden Quaintance – center (asked to be released from NLI)
    • 247Sports: 5-star, No. 8 overall
    • ESPN: 5-star, No. 14 overall
    • On3: 5-star, No. 7 overall
    • Rivals: 5-star, No. 11 overall
    • NOTE: Reportedly no longer considering Arkansas
  • Billy Richmond – forward (de-committed)
    • 247Sports: 4-star, No. 22 overall
    • ESPN: 4-star, No. 39 overall
    • On3: 4-star, No. 20 overall
    • Rivals: 5-star, No. 20 overall

Portal Contacts by Calipari at Kentucky & Arkansas

  • Clifford Omoruyi – Rutgers
    • C | 6-11 | 240
    • Stats: 32 G/32 GS, 26.9 min., 10.4 pts. (51.2% FG, 61.0% FT), 8.3 reb., 2.9 blk.
    • Notes: Two-time Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection… 2023 All-Big Ten selection
    • Remaining eligibility: 1 year
  • BJ Freeman – Milwaukee
    • G/F | 6-6 | 200
    • Stats: 27 G/22 GS, 32.2 min., 21.1 pts. (42.2% FG, 35.1% 3PT, 82.4% FT), 6.6 reb., 4.1 ast., 1.1 stl.
    • Notes: Two-time All-Horizon League selection… Averaged 18.2 points as a sophomore in 2022-23… Began career with one season at Dodge City C.C.
    • Remaining eligibility: 1 year
  • Tyler Nickel – Virginia Tech (COMMITTED TO VANDERBILT)
    • G/F | 6-7 | 220
    • Stats: 33 G/7 GS, 24.3 min., 8.8 pts. (43.8% FG, 39.9% 3PT, 82.0% FT), 2.2 reb., 1.3 ast.
    • Notes: Began career with one year at North Carolina
    • Remaining eligibility: 2 years
  • Jalen Blackmon – Stetson
    • G | 6-3 | 180
    • Stats: 35 G/35 GS, 34.8 min., 21.3 pts. (42.8% FG, 38.1% 3PT, 90.7% FT), 2.9 reb., 1.9 ast.
    • Notes: Two-time All-ASUN selection… Began career with one year at Grand Canyon
    • Remaining eligibility: 1 year
  • Cade Tyson – Belmont
    • G/F | 6-7 | 205
    • Stats: 31 G/31 GS, 31.6 min., 16.2 pts. (49.3% FG, 46.5% 3PT, 85.5% FT), 5.9 reb., 1.6 ast.
    • Notes: 2024 All-MVC selection… 2023 MVC Rookie of the Year
    • Remaining eligibility: 2 years
  • Javian McCollum – Oklahoma (COMMITTED TO GEORGIA TECH)
    • G | 6-2 | 160
    • Stats: 30 G/30 GS, 31.1 min., 13.3 pts. (40.4% FG, 31.4% 3PT, 94.3% FT), 2.6 reb., 3.4 ast.
    • Notes: Began career with two years at Siena… 2023 All-MAAC selection
    • Remaining eligibility: 1 year
  • AJ Storr – Wisconsin (COMMITTED TO KANSAS)
    • G | 6-7 | 180
    • Stats: 36 G/36 GS, 28.8 min., 16.8 pts. (43.4% FG, 32.0% 3PT, 81.2% FT), 3.9 reb.
    • Notes: Began career with one year at St. John’s… 2023 Big East All-Freshman Team selection… 2024 Big Ten All-Tournament Team selection
    • Remaining eligibility: 2 years
  • Dre Davis – Seton Hall (COMMITTED TO OLE MISS)
    • G/F | 6-6 | 210
    • Stats: 37 G/36 GS, 32.9 min., 15.0 pts. (49.2% FG, 35.0% 3PT, 84.0% FT), 5.9 reb., 1.6 ast., 1.3 blk.
    • Notes: Began career with two years at Louisville… Spent last two years at Seton Hall
    • Remaining eligibility: 1 year
  • Keyshawn Hall – George Mason
    • G/F | 6-7 | 230
    • Stats: 29 G/28 GS, 30.6 min., 16.6 pts. (47.4% FG, 35.7% 3PT, 84.4% FT), 8.1 reb., 1.4 ast.
    • Notes: Arkansas in his top four, alongside USC, Michigan State and UCF… 2024 All-A-10 selection… Began career with one year at UNLV
    • Remaining eligibility: 2 years

Another player to keep an eye on is five-star recruit Liam McNeely, who is one of the highest ranked uncommitted players left in the 2024 class. He recently told ESPN that Arkansas is among six programs he’s been speaking with, as well as Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan and UConn. McNeely was previously committed to Indiana and played at Montverde Academy, which also produced Moses Moody.


More on which signees are most likely to follow John Calipari to Arkansas here:

2025 NCAA Championship Odds

Vegas sure puts an awful lot of faith in Coach Cal. Despite the current empty cupboard, the Arkansas basketball program has the 8th-best odds to win the 2025 national title according to BetOnline. Here’s their latest breakdown:

North Carolina14/1
Iowa State22/1
Michigan State40/1
Miami FL50/1

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