Kentucky turns to alum Pope to change Calipari

  • Jeff Borzello, ESPN

    • Staff WriterApr 12, 2024, 10:45 AM ET Close Basketball recruiting insider.
    • Joined ESPN in 2014.
    • Graduate of University of Delaware.Mark Pope is officially Kentucky

    ‘s brand-new men’s basketball coach, the school revealed Friday.Pope was a captain on Kentucky’s 1996 national championship team and has actually been the head coach at BYU for the past five seasons. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart went with Pope after a number of prominent prospects refused the task or distanced themselves from the search.”Mark Pope not just brings an outstanding record in nine years as a head coach, however also a love of the University of Kentucky and a complete understanding of what our program indicates to the people of our state,”Barnhart said.” As a captain on the ’96 championship team, Mark was a cherished and highly regarded colleague. As a head coach, he is extremely concerned nationally as an innovator. His teams run an unique and dynamic up-tempo offense, and they get after it on defense. He is a strong recruiter with global ties and a person of stability. “He fully welcomes our high expectations and requirements, and I know that

    as our fans get reacquainted with Mark, they will aspire to join him on what guarantees to be an amazing ride.”Kentucky did not divulge terms of the offer, however sources informed ESPN on Thursday that the 2 sides were completing a five-year contract.Editor’s Picks

    1 Associated Pope changes John Calipari, the Hall of Popularity coach who left this week for the Arkansas Razorbacks after 15 seasons in Lexington. Calipari led the Wildcats to four Last Fours and the 2012 championship game.

    “The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball. It’s the definition of blue-blood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year,” Pope stated. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a person. The love and enthusiasm I have for this program, this university and individuals of the commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.

    “I’m happy to [Dr. Eli Capilouto, UK president] and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach, and I can’t wait to do this together!”

    Pope took BYU to 2 NCAA tournaments in five seasons, going 110-52 overall with the Cougars. In their very first season in the Huge 12 in 2023-24, they exceeded expectations, completing connected for 5th in the league and going 23-11.

    Before taking control of at BYU in 2019, Pope was the coach at Utah Valley for four seasons. The Wolverines never won a regular-season title under Pope, but he went 48-21 in his last 2 seasons, going 22-8 in league play.Pope does not bring much top-level success, failing to win a regular-season or conference tournament championship during his 9 seasons as a head coach. His teams also suffered upset losses in the first round of the NCAA tournament, losing as a 6-seed facing an 11-seed both times– against UCLA in 2021 and vs. Duquesne last month.After helping lead Kentucky to the championship game in 1996, Pope played for 7 seasons in the NBA. He finished 2 years of medical school at Columbia University before joining Mark Fox’s staff at Georgia in 2009. Pope then spent one year as an assistant coach at Wake Forest and four years as an assistant coach under Dave Rose at BYU.Kentucky and Barnhart pivoting to Pope on Thursday night followed Baylor’s Scott Drew and UConn’s Dan Hurley rejected the task previously in the day. Alabama’s Nate Oats and previous Villanova coach Jay Wright had formerly revealed they weren’t pursuing the job, and Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan stated he was dedicated to his team and hadn’t had contact with Kentucky.

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