After planning to turn pro, former Kentucky player Ugonna Onyenso transfers to a new school

After initially declaring for the 2024 NBA draft without plans to return to college basketball, a former Kentucky player will in fact be transferring to a new school.

On Tuesday afternoon, former UK post player Ugonna Onyenso announced he will be transferring from Kentucky to Kansas State ahead of the 2024-25 college basketball season.

This marks the latest chapter in an active offseason for the 7-footer from Nigeria who played the last two seasons at Kentucky under former head coach John Calipari.

On April 15, Onyenso announced he would be declaring for the 2024 NBA draft. As part of that announcement, Onyenso planned to hire an agent and forgo his two remaining years of NCAA eligibility.

Onyenso made that decision before meeting in person with Mark Pope, who had been named Calipari’s replacement at UK just three days prior.

“As of today, I don’t plan on entering the transfer portal,” Onyenso told ESPN. “I feel like I am ready for the NBA. I haven’t met with Mark Pope. I only spoke on the phone with him three days ago. I’m ready to go to the next level and show what I can do, but I’m not closing any doors.”

Those doors, evidently, remained open for Onyenso, who was ranked by ESPN as a top-70 prospect in the 2024 draft.

On April 23, Onyenso entered the NCAA transfer portal. On May 29, Onyenso withdrew from draft consideration and announced plans to continue his college basketball career.

On Tuesday, he committed to Kansas State from the portal.

Onyenso was a late addition to Kentucky’s 2022 recruiting class, arriving on the UK campus just before the 2022-23 academic calendar began. He was ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 36 overall prospect in the 2022 recruiting group by the 247Sports Composite.

After playing sparingly as a freshman, Onyenso emerged as UK’s starting center as a sophomore last season.

He missed the entire 2023-24 preseason and the first month of games with a foot injury, but went on to average 3.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots in 18.6 minutes per game. Onyenso played in 24 games last season and made 14 starts for Calipari’s final UK squad.

Onyenso had 66 blocks last season, which was tied for the 32nd in the nation. Onyenso’s average of 2.8 blocks per game would have ranked sixth in the country if Onyenso had played enough games to qualify for that leaderboard.

In February, Onyenso set a UK record for the most blocks in a game at Rupp Arena when he swatted 10 shots in a home win over Ole Miss.

According to college basketball statistician Evan Miyakawa, Onyenso ranks as the No. 227 overall transfer portal player, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Last year, Onyenso also entered the transfer portal, before ultimately returning to Kentucky.

Onyenso’s departure from Lexington also completes the full roster turnover for UK from Calipari’s final team to Pope’s first team.

All 10 underclassmen from the 2023-24 Kentucky basketball team are now either in the NBA draft pool or have transferred out of the UK program.

Ugonna Onyenso played two seasons at Kentucky for former UK head coach John Calipari.
Ugonna Onyenso played two seasons at Kentucky for former UK head coach John Calipari.


Here’s what we know about Mark Pope’s first Kentucky basketball roster, and what’s become of the players from last season’s UK team.

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

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

So far, Pope has 12 players lined up to come to Lexington for next season.

These players are incoming freshmen Collin Chandler (a combo guard and former BYU signee), Travis Perry (an in-state guard who committed to and signed with UK last fall) and Trent Noah (another in-state guard and a former South Carolina signee), Otega Oweh (a guard who previously played two seasons at Oklahoma), Ansley Almonor (a forward who previously played three seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson), Koby Brea (a guard who previously played four seasons at Dayton), Lamont Butler (a guard who previously played four seasons at San Diego State), Kerr Kriisa (a guard who previously played at Arizona and West Virginia), Jaxson Robinson (a fifth-year guard who led BYU in scoring last season), Amari Williams (a former four-year forward at Drexel), Andrew Carr (who previously played two seasons each at Delaware and Wake Forest) and Brandon Garrison (a second-year center who played last season at Oklahoma State).

Kentucky still has one scholarship open to use next season.

May 1 was the deadline for college basketball players (including graduate transfers) to enter the transfer portal. Other transfer portal conditions include players having a 30-day window to enter the portal following a coaching change.

The early-entry deadline for the 2024 NBA draft has already passed. Players who entered the draft with remaining NCAA eligibility had until May 29 to remove their names from consideration and return to school.

This is what Onyenso did before announcing his transfer to Kansas State.

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