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Kentucky to hire former Wildcats champion to replace John Calipari

Kentucky court logo at Rupp Arena

Kentucky-commit Reed Sheppard brings the ball up the court atop the large UK logo at the UK HealthCare Boys Sweet 16 tournament Wednesday at Rupp Arena. March 15, 2022. Credit: Matt Stone/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kentucky has found their successor for John Calipari.

The Wildcats are set to hire BYU head coach Mark Pope to be the team’s next head coach, according to ESPN reporter Pete Thamel. Thamel says Pope is getting a 5-year deal.

Pope played two seasons for the Wildcats from 1994 to 1996. The 6’10” center averaged 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game across 69 games played (14 starts) for Kentucky. He had transferred as a junior after two seasons at Washington.

Pope was a member of the stacked 1995-96 Kentucky team that won the national championship in 1996.

Pope’s college coaching career began at Georgia, where he served as an assistant coach in 2009. Pope went on to become an assistant at BYU from 2011 to 2015.

The Kentucky alum got his first head coaching job at Utah Valley. Pope’s record gradually improved throughout his four seasons atop the Wolverines’ program. Utah Valley went from 12-18 in the 2015-16 campaign to 25-10 three years later.

Pope returned to BYU in 2019 to replace Dave Rose as the team’s head coach. In five seasons coaching BYU, Pope has led the team to a 187-108 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

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