For BYU fans, Mark Pope’s exit has never hurt worse than it does now.

Former Cougars commit Collin Chandler — the highest-rated recruit in program history during the 247 Sports ratings era — has been released from his commitment and will join Pope at Kentucky. Travis Branham of 247 Sports was first with the news.

Chandler was the No. 33 prospect nationally in the class of 2022 out of Farmington High School. He has spent the past two years on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and returns home next month.

After spending Chandler’s mission counting down the days until he finished and could suit up for the Cougars, BYU fans have now been left empty-handed at the last minute.

“I am grateful for Cougar Nation in taking me in as family from day one and supporting me in a precious time of my life,” Chandler said in a statement to 247 Sports. “I have been blessed to be able to experience such a passionate and loving fan base. I am especially grateful for Coach Pope and the mentorship and trust he has given me from the very beginning.

“... Through the past couple of days, the path I had before envisioned has been blurred. After talking with my family and many prayers, this vision has become clearer than ever. I am humbled to get the opportunity to continue this journey at the University of Kentucky! Go Wildcats!”

The players leaving BYU along with Mark Pope — and other Utah ties in the transfer portal

Chandler was the No. 6 combo guard of his class and No. 1 overall talent in Utah, with his initial commitment to BYU being viewed as one of Pope’s most notable wins with the program.

Now, instead of donning Cougar blue, he’ll be part of Big Blue Nation in Lexington as Pope’s first major addition into his new program.

Dallin Hall, Aly Khalifa and Richie Saunders have all entered the transfer portal since Pope’s departure, with more roster attrition expected in the near future.

A few players could still return to BYU depending on who is hired to fill the head coaching vacancy.