After missing the NCAA Tournament for a fourth-straight year, the BYU Cougars did away with longtime head coach Dave Rose. The WCC giants didn’t need to look far to find their replacement for him though.
According to Deseret News, BYU is expected to hire Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope to replace Rose. The 46-year-old Pope is coming off a third-straight trip to the CBI, and a career-high 25 wins.
Pope previously served as an assistant to Rose, serving under him from 2011 to 2015 before taking the Utah State job. After going 12-18 in his first year, Pope led the Wolverines to a 17-17 record that included a trip to the CBI Semifinals.
From the report:
Mark Pope, the widely publicized front-runner in BYU’s search to lead its men’s basketball program, is expected to be named the Cougars’ head basketball coach as early as today or as late as Friday, according to Deseret News sources familiar with the hiring process.
“Pope just checks off all the boxes for BYU in terms of Division I experience, his ability to connect with the community, raise money and his knowledge and experience at the highest level of college play. He has NBA experience and connections key in recruiting, familiarity in working with the school’s unique challenges. He is the most qualified,” one source said.
The 2017-18 and 2018-19 really saw Pope shine, as he led the team to back-to-back seasons of 23 wins or more for the first time in school history.
As a player, Pope was a center for Washington and Kentucky. In 1992, he was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.3 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game.
He eventually transferred, and was a member of Kentucky’s 1996 national championship team. That year, he finished third on the team in rebounds per game, and was sixth in points per game.
Pope went on to play in six NBA seasons, as well as several seasons in other leagues, before retiring as a player in 2005.