Prep Program Director Calls Mark Pope “X and O Genius”


Utah Prep program director Shane Hayden says UK coach Mark Pope wins with "scouting and X's and O's" rather than relying just on talent. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Utah Prep program director Shane Hayden has no doubts that Mark Pope will be a highly successful recruiter now that the former BYU head coach is the new coach at UK.

“We built a good relationship with Mark and some guys on his staff,” Hayden said. “Our players and coaches were able to be around his program. Last year they brought us in and had guys play pickup games with their guys and took us to a football game and got our kids on the field. I am really happy for Mark. He’s where his heart is.”

Hayden called Pope a coach who is a “X and O genius” but also a coach able to make changes.

“He is the type of coach who can take any talent and make the most of it. Whether it is future pros or under the radar guys, he will maximize their talent,” Hayden said. “BYU was picked near the bottom of the Big 12 last year and they ended fifth or so and got to the (NCAA) tournament and had a really respectable year with some great wins.

“You are going to see the 3-point shot a lot. He will get shooters and play fast, something Kentucky fans should really like.”

Hayden respected what former UK coach John Calipari did but knows Pope will do things differently.

“Calipari would bring in future NBA talent and use that talent to beat you. He kept it simple,” Hayden said. “Coaches like Pope or Greg McDermott of Creighton get you with scouting and getting deep into X’s and O’s.

“At BYU they had 70 different offensive sets last year. The players know and understand all that. It will be different after watching Calipari trying to beat you with talent and if you have the best players you can do that. I am sure Mark will get good talent and mix that with guys that fit his style but he will coach the elite players and other guys up the same way.”

20 Responses

  1. I read where Pope has offered 3 top ten players in the 25′ class, with one being the #1 ranked. Plus he has offered Jasper Johnson and the 7 footer from Great Crossing. Looks like Pope is also interested in the 5* One -n- Dones. Smart man.

  2. I think the days of freshmen phenoms will be at smaller schools where they can be the "man." Junior, senior, and 5th year seniors who have been battle tested and proven in the college ranks are going to be the dominate force in college basketball now. Look at the teams that are winning championships. Freshmen get a chance to play with these guys, learn and get better from that, and develop into more capable players their sophomore and junior years. If Mark can add Kentucky high school seniors like Johnson and Moore and work them into the system with Perry, Noah, and Chandler we will always have a talented team in the making. Retain a couple of guys like Garrison, Almonor, and Oweh, add a couple of more key pieces from the portal and you won’t have to be dependent on having a top recruiting class every year. We saw last year and many other years before that top rated high school seniors don’t always excel at the college level. Then you have a kid like Reed Sheppard, who was ranked in the mid 30s turns out to be Freshman of the Year by many pundits. Mark is doing this the right way. Kentucky basketball is in good hands.

  3. Pope might take one or two high profile Kentucky players now and then and add a transfer here and there to fill a hole. It’s obvious this years team was built out of desperation. He knows he has to get the best players he can and that’s not a bunch of transfers. There won’t be any fifth year seniors after next year unless they redshirt ( fat chance). The extra Covid year ends. 5* kids won’t be going to smaller schools. They will go to the same places as always. Looks like Pope is trying to get his fair share. I notice he and Cal has been hanging out at the EYBL. Look like buddies. Go Cats!

    1. I got that "C-Note" whiner! Maybe Larry V will hold them. Don’t trust you. I don’t blame Cal for leaving with all the crybaby whiners. You crybabies wanted him gone and now you say he bolted. Pathetic once again. He left 33 million on the table and told the "basketball bennies" to stick it in their A$$. With all that NIL money and still couldn’t land Osobor. The real test begins with next years class. Atleast he’s going after the right players. If he can get 4-5, he’ll be on his way. I’d say with all the crybaby narcissists on the net it will be hard to land any of them. Go Cats!

      1. Wish the best for Calapari and the Arkansas program…with that being said any knowledgeable fan will soon see that Cal is a awful bench coach, actually a medicore basketball coach…his claim to fame is his recruiting and he has that down pat…also the Arkansas fans should listen when he speaks about the players and the goals….getting players to the N B A and getting paid is first for him, then comes the school second as it pertains to hanging banners….Calapari also wants to run everything within the basketball program as his own, no athletic director, no school president, no school trustrees involved….Calapari has the gift of gab and when at the end of the season Arkansas didn’t live up to the expectations with all the 5 star players Calapari will just make excuses and move on to replacing the 5 stars with the next group of 5 stars and the cycle rinses and repeats….Calapari will be a excellent ambassador for the program and the state and he deserves credit for this….wish nothing for the best for Arkansas basketball because it makes the league stronger and the competition better and sells lots of hotdogs at home games !

      2. Jimmy! Jimmy! Move to Fayetteville to be with your hero. BBN gave the FRAUD a big kick in his A$$ and said good riddance. You are the ONLY idiot who is still crying over the FRAUD’S cowardly departure to anyplace that would have him. It turns out that Arkansas was the only place that was desperate enough to take a guy who had a recent 1 – 4 record in the SEC tourney, not to mention his first round loss in the NIT and his first round losses in the Big Dance. Jimmy it’s obvious that losers love losers, so you and the FRAUD ought to get married. BBN is rejoicing in the hire of Mark Pope and the return of "Kentucky first" basketball. Jimmy! Jimmy! Get over the FRAUD being gone! Get over yourself! If you can’t, then get the hell out of Kentucky! BBN doesn’t need crybabies like you!

        1. There Is Not A Bigger Crybaby Sissy than YOU Barry. You offered up a "C-Note" on the Arkansas game and now you want to back out like a Coward. I have never said anything bad about Cal or Pope. The Cal Crybabies like you are the ones that want call someone names like a first grader. Your ole lady is more of a man than you are. PUNK! Go Cats!

          1. I am THRILLED the used car salesman is gone. I was happy with him for a couple years but then it was clear he put his own philanthropic interests and the NBA before UK. That is simply unacceptable. His ego was out of control. He talked to the fans like idiots who’d never watched a bball game. He burned bridges with media and donors. But the kicker for me was his elitist attitude while being an uninformed idiot. He bent the knee to the marxist terrorist organization BLM. He double masked for a virus with an IFR no different than flu and social distanced HIS BENCH during games!!! God what a virtue signaling moron. Cherry on top was he started his own podcast and could have had any former UK player from Issel to Delk to Davis on for his first show but who did he invite? The king marxist divider himself, Barry Obama, almost universally hated by Red state Kentucky. Cal lost the room and lost the state and he absolutely SUCKED BALLS from the moment he signed the lifetime contract. Good riddance to Cal. Great recruiter, terrible coach. Arkansas will find out soon enough and so will you.

          2. Who cares what you think Pblue dip-$hit. They should have knelt every game. Best game they played all year orange man ball licker. I had a relative die of covid. Should have been you punk!

          3. Jimmy, you haven’t got $100 to your name! Even if you did, I wouldn’t trust a pissant pig squealer like you with 10 cents. Everyone here knows who you are and what you are. Move to Fayetteville where you belong and squeal with the rest of the pigs.

      3. Everyone that understood he couldn’t actually coach wanted him gone. Lol we won because we didn’t have to pay him the 33 million. Pope could have gotten Osobor if he really wanted him There are thing you and I don’t know about the situation. What were Osobor’s demands: I.E. starters minutes, money etc…reports are he wanted over a million. Pope may have realized he wasn’t a good fit for what he wanted his system. You will see the difference with someone that can actually coach versus roll the ball out. Pope took a religious (strick requirement school) that top talent didn’t necessarily want to come too and took them to the tournament. He beat kansas that Cal lost to. Beat Gonzaga that Cal lost to. Also beat Baylor…Cal couldn’t have done that with the players Pope had. Heck he couldn’t do it with 1 and done nba players…Still doubt Pope’s coaching abilities????????

  4. Even though Pope arrived at Kentucky with only Perry remaining on the roster, Mark put together a top tier staff and began working the portal and has assembled a team that I think will be the talk of the 2024/25 season…and he isn’t done. The only desperation that I saw was coming from the Calipari lovers who were crying about the sky falling when the FRAUD tucked his tail and ran off to Fayetteville like a scalded dog, or should I say HOG! Musselman left Arkansas for a reason and it won’t be long before everyone will know that the FRAUD will do no better. BBN isn’t going to miss Calipari for one second. This will be borne out come SEC play and the Big Dance. It will be a very nice change to know that our team will no longer have the stench that came with the FRAUD and neither will we be a One and Done failure in both tourneys.

    1. There will be lots of desperation shots from the opposing players this season.

      Unlike the previous coach, this coach has gone out and got 4 of the top 20 defensive players in the portal.

      Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships. Rebounding wins titles

  5. In the 2025 class we need Hudson Greer. He is the most athletic shooting guard and shooter I’ve seen in awhile. I hope Pope goes after this kid full throttle. He played the #1 player in the 2024 class I think his name is Cooper Flagg and played him shot for shot and dunk for dunk. He’s also a great defender which is rarely seen in high school. If we can get Jasper Johnson Malachi Moreno and Hudson Greer we will have a star studded freshman class. I think Pope gets 3-4 freshman every year then fills in the roster with the best transfers available. He got here at Kentucky to late in the high school recruiting cycle and still did very good. We know Chandler was a Top 35 recruit. Perry is a top 75 recruit and Noah is a borderline top 100 recruit. Not bad for someone who got here in April.

  6. Jimmy we didn’t want cal-shitpari at Kentucky that’s why he’s gone. I give him credit for leaving when not wanted. I bet you Kentucky beats Arkansas and their 5star recruits. Thero is the only player Kentucky will miss that Arkansas now has. Pope has went out and brought some experienced players in that can play DEFENSE something cal-shitpari knows absolutely nothing about, but not only can they play DEFENSE they can shoot the ball. Pope’s coaching abilities and the Kentucky brand will serve both with success.

      1. Jimmy! Jimmy! See! I told you so! Everyone here knows you are a pissant squealer. You aren’t welcomed here. Nobody wants to hear you squeal! As for eternity, you already have a reservation in the smoking section of the hereafter.

  7. Agree the Greer kid is as talented as any in his class, has size,toughness,a good handle with the ball, quick, smart and sees the floor…also he has somewhat of a chip on his shoulder and shows it come game time…get him close to the rim and he will throw the ball down with attitude ! He loves to dunk it ! Just the kind of player that can thrive at Ky and have the fans standing

  8. Now that the FRAUD has been RUNNED OFF, the top tier high school seniors still want to play for Kentucky! The know that Pope is 5 times the coach that the FRAUD was. Everyone knows that the FRAUD cheated at UMass and Memphis. I still worry that the NCAA will start looking at what he did here. It would not surprise me that his pets agreed to pay the FRAUD under the table if he got them into the NBA. The FRAUD should be banned from coaching anywhere with his past history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

All articles loaded
No more articles to load