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CBS Sports Lists Scott Drew, Mark Pope as Kentucky Coaching Targets

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Baylor vs Clemson

It’s not every day that a job like Kentucky’s head basketball coach comes open, but that’s what happened late Sunday evening.

Longtime Wildcats head coach John Calipari is set to leave UK for Arkansas–an unprecedented move, to say the least–just weeks after announcing that he would be back for his 16th season.

Now, the rest of the college basketball world is on high alert, as a job like Kentucky will bring interest from some big names.


Matched in prestige by only schools like Kansas, Duke, and UNC, Kentucky will have a shot at just about any coach in the country, both from a financial standpoint and having enough roster talent and program history to lure big names out into the fold. At least two of those names, according to CBS Sports, are currently with Big 12 programs: Baylor’s Scott Drew and BYU’s Mark Pope.

Here’s what Cameron Salerno had to say about each of them, and how much sense it might make for them to end up with the Wildcats.

Scott Drew (Baylor)

“Drew is a logical choice for the Kentucky job because of his friendship with [UK AD Mitch] Barnhart,” Salerno writes. “Another reason why Drew makes sense is because he’s a program builder. He inherited a Baylor program that was on the verge of the death penalty and built it into a national champion nearly two decades later. Drew is an excellent recruiter and developer of talent. He’s 446-244 at Baylor and won two Big 12 regular season titles since 2021 – the year Baylor went 28-2 and won the NCAA Tournament.”


Mark Pope (BYU)

“Pope played at Kentucky from 1994-96 and was on Kentucky’s 1996 national championship team, playing a role at bringing home the program’s sixth national title,” Salerno said. “As a coach, Pope has seen a steady rise since starting his coaching career as an assistant coach at Georgia in 2010. After stints as an assistant coach at Georgia, Wake Forest, and BYU, he landed the Utah Valley job in 2015. After spending four seasons in the WAC, Pope was hired by BYU. Pope has guided BYU to two NCAA Tournament appearances and finished the 2023-24 season with a 23-11 record in its first season as a member of the Big 12.”

Don’t expect the process to take long, as the timing of Calipari’s exit will leave UK with some urgency in finding a new coach. The transfer portal window is wide open and waiting too long could lead to some players from one of the nation’s most talented rosters to start looking around.

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