Mark Edward Pope (born September 11, 1972) is an American college basketball coach who is the head coach at the University of Kentucky, his alma mater. After a stint at the University of Washington, where he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, he transferred to Kentucky, where he was part of the Wildcats' 1996 NCAA national championship team. He later played professionally in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, and Denver Nuggets.

Mark Pope
Pope in 2019
Kentucky Wildcats
PositionHead coach
Personal information
Born (1972-09-11) September 11, 1972 (age 51)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High schoolNewport (Bellevue, Washington)
NBA draft1996: 2nd round, 52nd overall pick
Selected by the Indiana Pacers
Playing career1997–2005
PositionPower forward / small forward
Number43, 41
Coaching career2009–present
Career history
As player:
1996–1997Anadolu Efes S.K.
19971999Indiana Pacers
1999La Crosse Bobcats
20002002Milwaukee Bucks
20022003New York Knicks
20032005Denver Nuggets
As coach:
2009–2010Georgia (assistant)
2010–2011Wake Forest (assistant)
2011–2015BYU (assistant)
2015–2019Utah Valley
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points285 (1.9 ppg)
Assists63 (0.4 apg)
Rebound161 (1.7 rpg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at

Playing career edit

Pope played at Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington. In college, he played two years for the Washington Huskies, and earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 1992 after setting a freshman single-season school record with 8.1 rebounds per game. After two seasons with the Huskies, Pope transferred to the Kentucky Wildcats. After sitting out the 1993–94 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Pope appeared in every game for the Wildcats over the next two seasons, winning two SEC championships. Pope was also a team captain on the 1995–96 Wildcats team that won an NCAA national championship, averaging 7.6 points in 20.3 minutes per game.

Following his college career, Pope was a second-round pick for the Indiana Pacers in the 1996 NBA draft. Pope played six seasons in the NBA for the Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, and Denver Nuggets. His playing career ended in 2005.

Coaching career edit

In 2006, Pope enrolled in medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. In 2009, he left medical school and joined Mark Fox's coaching staff at the University of Georgia as director of basketball operations for the 2009–10 season. Fox was an assistant coach when both were at Washington.

The following season (2010–11), Pope moved to Wake Forest to serve as an assistant under Jeff Bzdelik.[1]

From 2011 to 2015, Pope was an assistant under Dave Rose at BYU.[2] In four years, Pope helped the Cougars to four straight 20-win seasons and four straight postseason appearances, including three NCAA Tournament bids and a trip to the semifinals of the 2013 NIT.

Utah Valley (2015–2019) edit

In 2015, Pope was hired as head coach of the men's basketball team at Utah Valley University (UVU). In four years at UVU (2015-19), Pope’s teams made improvements each season, going from 12 wins in 2015-16 to 25 victories in 2018-19. He also led the Wolverines to three-straight postseason appearances (2017, 2018, 2019) and back-to-back 20-win seasons (2017-18, 2018-19).[3]

BYU (2019–2024) edit

On April 10, 2019, Pope was hired to replace Dave Rose as BYU's 19th men's basketball head coach, after Rose's retirement.[4]

In his first season, Pope led the Cougars to a 24-8 record, the most wins for a first-year coach in program history. He became just the second first-year BYU coach to lead his team into the top 25 and the first to end his debut season ranked. The Cougars entered the top 25 as No. 23 in the AP Poll on Feb. 17 and jumped to as high as No. 14.

In league play, Pope guided the Cougars to a record of 13-3, second in the West Coast Conference (WCC). The 13 wins – which included a 91-78 victory over No. 2 Gonzaga in the Marriott Center – were a tie for the most by BYU during their time in the WCC. Gonzaga was the highest-ranked team BYU has defeated in the history of the Marriott Center. The Cougars finished the regular season on a nine-game win streak, the team's longest win streak in WCC play.

BYU boasted one of the most efficient offenses in the nation in 2019-20, evidenced by top 5 national rankings in several statistical categories. The Cougars finished the season ranked No. 1 in 3-point field goal percentage, No. 2 in assist/turnover ratio, No. 3 in field goal percentage, No. 4 in 3-point field goals per game and No. 5 in assists per game. In addition to the national rankings, BYU set program records for 3-point field goals in a single-game, 3-point field goals in a single season and 3-point field goals per game for a season.

In addition to the team success, three players earned All-WCC First Team honors in Yoeli Childs, T.J. Haws, and Jake Toolson. Childs also earned first-team All-District honors from the USBWA and NABC and was a Senior CLASS Award second-team All-American. Haws earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team and Toolson was named the WCC Newcomer of the Year.

The team was projected to be a lock for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, which would have been their first berth since 2015. However, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the tournament and prematurely ended the successful season. BYU ended the season at No. 18 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Pope's early success with the Cougars continued in 2020-21. BYU finished 10-3 in WCC play. The team reached the finals of the WCC Tournament, losing to Gonzaga, 88-78, in the championship. The team received an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. They were defeated in the first round by UCLA, 73-62.

On January 20, 2022, BYU defeated San Diego 79-71, which marked Pope's 60th career win at BYU and made him the fastest BYU head coach ever to reach that benchmark. The win also gave the Cougars a 16-4 record for the season, which was Pope's best start through 20 games as head coach.[5]

Pope and the Cougars went 24–11 in 2021–22, but only 9–6 in WCC play. They were defeated in the third round of the WCC Tournament, and received an at-large bid to the NIT. The Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals, where they were defeated by Washington State.

During 2022–23, BYU failed to reach 20 wins for the first time in Pope's tenure as head coach, going 19–15 overall and 7–9 in-conference for the Cougars' final season as a member of the WCC. The Cougars failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2019.

On July 1, 2023, BYU became a member of the Big 12 Conference, with Pope coaching the Cougars in their first-ever season as part of a major conference in 2023–24. BYU posted a 22–9 regular season record and a 10–8 record in Big 12 play during the 2023-24 season. The Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, where they were defeated by Texas Tech. They received a bid to the NCAA Tournament as a 6-seed and lost to Duquesne in the Round of 64.

Kentucky (2024–present) edit

On April 12, 2024, Pope was hired to become the 23rd men's basketball head coach at Kentucky.[6]

Personal life edit

Pope and his wife, Lee Anne, a former assistant to talk show host David Letterman, have four daughters. Lee Anne is the daughter of the late Lynn Archibald, who was the head basketball coach at the University of Utah from 1983 to 1989 and was an assistant at BYU in the 1990s.[7] Pope is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Career statistics edit

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

NBA edit


Regular season edit

1997–98 Indiana 28 0 6.9 .341 .333 .588 .9 .3 .1 .2 1.4
1998–99 Indiana 4 0 6.5 .143 .000 .000 1.0 .0 .0 .0 .5
2000–01 Milwaukee 63 45 15.0 .437 .208 .629 2.3 .6 .3 .4 2.4
2001–02 Milwaukee 45 12 9.5 .396 .160 .524 1.6 .4 .2 .2 1.9
2003–04 Denver 4 0 5.0 .500 .000 .8 .0 .1 .0 .5
2004–05 Denver 9 0 3.0 .333 .9 .1 .1 .2 .4
Career 153 57 10.7 .401 .179 .573 1.7 .4 .2 .3 1.9

Playoffs edit

1998 Indiana 7 0 6.0 .667 .000 1.000 .7 .1 .1 .0 1.3
2001 Milwaukee 6 3 7.7 .500 .000 2.0 .3 .3 .0 1.7
Career 13 3 6.8 .563 .000 1.000 1.3 .2 .2 .0 1.5

Head coaching record edit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Utah Valley Wolverines (Western Athletic Conference) (2015–2019)
2015–16 Utah Valley 12–18 6–8 5th
2016–17 Utah Valley 17–17 6–8 5th CBI Semifinals
2017–18 Utah Valley 23–11 10–4 2nd CBI Quarterfinals
2018–19 Utah Valley 25–10 12–4 2nd CBI Quarterfinals
Utah Valley: 77–56 (.579) 34–24 (.586)
BYU Cougars (West Coast Conference) (2019–2023)
2019–20 BYU 24–8 13–3 2nd Postseason not held
2020–21 BYU 20–7 10–3 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2021–22 BYU 24–11 9–6 5th NIT Quarterfinals
2022–23 BYU 19–15 7–9 T–5th
BYU Cougars (Big 12 Conference) (2023–2024)
2023–24 BYU 23–11 10–8 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 64
BYU: 110–52 (.679) 49–29 (.628)
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (2024–present)
2024–25 Kentucky 0–0 0–0
Kentucky: 0–0 (–) 0–0 (–)
Total: 187–108 (.634)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

References edit

  1. ^ Tucker, Tim (April 17, 2010). "UGA's Pope Headed to Wake Forest as Assistant Coach". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  2. ^ Call, Jeff (April 17, 2010). "Dave Rose hires Mark Pope to replace Dave Rice". Deseret News. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  3. ^ "Mark Pope: Head Men's Basketball Coach". Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  4. ^ "Mark Pope Hired as Next BYU Basketball Coach". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  5. ^ "BYU's Mark Pope Makes Hilarious Reference to Viral TikTok Phrase". January 21, 2022.
  6. ^ "Mark Pope Named Head Coach of Kentucky Men's Basketball". April 12, 2024.
  7. ^ Call, Jeff (May 27, 2011). "Mark Pope brings different type of hoops experience". Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  8. ^ "Mark Pope". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 24 January 2022.

External links edit