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Mark Pope, Alvin Brooks III attend USA U18 Training Camp in Colorado Springs

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim05/24/24

The flight trackers were back out in full force Friday morning, wondering where Kentucky‘s Mark Pope and Alvin Brooks III were going, and more importantly, who they were seeing.

Brooks shared on his Instagram story he and Pope were on their way “to see some future Cats,” boarding a private jet — the private jet that has been tracked since the start of the coaching search in early April. Where to this time? It didn’t take long for sleuths to share the plane was headed toward Colorado Springs.

What’s out in Colorado that has piqued the coaching staff’s interest? That would be the 2024 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team training camp featuring a number of Kentucky’s top recruiting targets — including two in-state standouts right down the road from Rupp Arena.

Lexington’s Jasper Johnson and Georgetown’s Malachi Moreno are in attendance, joining the likes of Nate Ament, Mikel Brown Jr., Jerry Easter II, Hudson Greer, Shelton Henderson, Trey McKenney, Meleek Thomas and Caleb Wilson — all 2025 recruits with confirmed Kentucky interest, players the UK staff evaluated in person last weekend in their first live period of the cycle.

But wait a minute, how can Pope and Brooks attend a recruiting event during the dead period, which runs from May 22 through June 2? Look no further than NCAA Bylaw, which allows coaches to attend national team activities outside of evaluation and recruiting periods should the players be coached by a Division I institution’s coach, head or assistant

“A coaching staff member may attend a live organized athletic activity (e.g., training camps, minicamps, tryouts, competition) involving a national team, including junior level teams (e.g., U18 national team), outside an evaluation or recruiting period, provided the team is coached by a Division I institution’s coach (head or assistant) and the activity is approved, sponsored or conducted by the applicable national governing body (e.g., USA Basketball),” the bylaw states.

Considering training camp is led by USA U18 head coach Tommy Lloyd of Arizona and assistant coaches Grant McCasland of Texas Tech and Micah Shrewsberry of Notre Dame, the event is fair game for the Kentucky staffers to attend. Justin Gray of Coastal Carolina, Ben McCollum  of Drake, Josh Schertz of St. Louis and Jon Scheyer of Duke are also assisting at training camp, all making their USA Basketball coaching debuts.

Any chance for Pope and his staff to be working, they’re working. And the list of talent in attendance is truly the best of the best both locally from Kentucky and nationally.

The only question left: Who are Pope and Brooks going to see on that follow-up flight to Provo late Friday evening?

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