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Mark Pope announces Mikhail McLean as fifth assistant: "He is going to make a massive impact on this program"

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim06/14/24

It’s official: Mikhail McLean will be the fifth and final assistant on Mark Pope’s first coaching staff at Kentucky. The former Lamar assistant let the cat out of the bag by unofficially announcing his move to Lexington on social media, and now, the program has confirmed the hire.

“Mikhail played and coached under Kelvin Sampson who is one of the best, toughest and smartest coaches in the game,” Pope said. “Mikhail’s work with The Bahamian National Team along with his college coaching experience has allowed him to become one of the hardest-working, detail-oriented and top skill development coaches in the country. I’m so excited to have him and his family join our staff, and for him to get to work with our team because he is going to make a massive impact on this program.”

McLean comes from Lamar under head coach Alvin Brooks, the father of UK Associate Head Coach Alvin Brooks III. He spent three years on staff in Beaumont, TX, helping lead the Cardinals to steady improvement year-to-year, headlined by a record-breaking 19-14 season in 2023-24 — the program’s most wins since moving to Division I in 2011-12, second most since 1987-88.

“I am honored to be joining Coach Pope and the Kentucky men’s basketball staff,” McLean said. “There is not a better fan base to work for and chase championships than this one. I would like to thank Coach Pope and Mitch Barnhart for affording me this opportunity. I would be remiss if I did not also thank Alvin Brooks for his selfless leadership and mentorship the last 14 years at both Lamar University and the University of Houston, along with Kelvin Sampson for their unbelievable support and guidance. My family and I are thrilled to be joining the Lexington community and I can’t wait to get to work.”

McLean was the school’s offensive coordinator while also being responsible for on-court player development with the guards and wings. Prior to his time at Lamar, he spent six seasons at Houston, helping lead the Cougars to AAC titles in 2019 and 2020 along with a run to the Final Four in 2021. In addition to his time in college as a coach, the native of The Bahamas also serves as the associate head coach on the Bahamian National Team staff. He has been a part of the program since 2021 and is the team’s defensive coordinator. That squad made history in 2023 by defeating Argentina — ranked No. 4 in the world — twice during the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament. They earned a ticket to the final qualifying tournament for the 2024 Olympics after downing Cuba and Uruguay during the 2023 run.

From here, McLean and The Bahamas National Team will depart next week in hopes of earning a bid to the 2024 Olympic Games. They’ll participate in two exhibition games before participating in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Valencia, Spain, beginning on July 2. The Bahamas is seeking its first-ever appearance in the Olympics.

Prior to his time as a coach, he was also a player at Houston, a four-year letterwinner for the Cougars with 101 game appearances. He was a team captain and a five-time Dean’s List selection.

Now, the former Cougar turned Cardinal is officially a Wildcat.

Welcome to the family, Coach McLean.

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