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Coaching staff, NIL, Facilities? The latest on Mark Pope's rebuild at Kentucky

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson04/15/24

MrsTylerKSR

Now that Mark Pope has been welcomed back into the fold with a homecoming party for the ages at Rupp Arena, it’s time to get to work. Pope said he was going to spend last night calling players, including “all of the guys on the current team, all those recruited, and every player in the portal.” What about his coaching staff? Matt Jones teased some potential news on today’s Kentucky Sports Radio.

Pope has five spots on his staff to fill. Jones is hearing that two of those are expected to be filled by BYU assistants, one who has been with Pope for a long time focusing on Xs and Os and the other who is younger and a “mathematical analytic savant.” While Jones did not name names, if you look at BYU’s staff, Cody Fueger and Keegan Brown seem like candidates.

You may not be familiar with Fueger or Brown, but Jones said there is one name in the running for an assistant spot that you would know; if they accept, he believes we will know by tomorrow.

“I think they are going after one person that would be a heck of a get and I’ll just leave it at that. We’ll see if it happens, but there’s one person they’re going after that everybody would know who it is, that’s a heck of a get. And then there’s a couple where I think they’re looking for one elite young recruiter. And then I don’t know what they’re gonna do with the other spot.”

Jones said people at UK would like to add someone else with a Kentucky connection, potentially even from the John Calipari era.

“I don’t know if it’s in an assistant spot or a grad assistant spot, but they would like to have someone else with a UK connection. Maybe even someone with a Cal connection because they would like to keep that Cal thing going.”

Is that Tyler Ulis? Ulis cannot be a student assistant because he already held that role for two seasons, but Kentucky could hire him as a grad assistant once he has his degree or as a full-time assistant. There is also talk of adding a general manager role to help with NIL, which Pope seemed open when asked on Sunday.

“I think the idea is, Mark’s got one that’s his,” Jones said of the staff. “They’re going after a big name. We’ll see if it happens. An ace recruiter and then somebody else. Remember when Cal was here, we felt like we needed to go get an X and O coach? I think the theory is, Mark is our Xs and Os coach. Now, we’ve got to go find a recruiter because the Xs and Os is Mark and this dude he’s bringing from BYU.”

So, a few trusted right-hand men from BYU, a big name, an ace recruiter, and potentially a Kentucky or Calipari connection. Keep your ears to the ground as we wait for more news.

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NIL rolling in…and maybe even a new practice facility?

How about Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL)? Kentucky received a $4 million donation from two donors on Friday morning, a significant kickstart to the rebuilding efforts. After Mitch Barnhart mentioned Club Blue, one of Kentucky’s collectives, during his KSR interview, they added 500 new monthly subscribers in 20 minutes. If those subscribers stay committed for the entire year, that’s $150,000.

More money is coming as more donors hop on board to help usher in this new era of Kentucky Basketball.

“The other thing is, everyone is coming out of the woodwork to try to be a part of this, meaning not just the players, but donors,” Jones said. “You are going to see an influx of donations, the likes of which you haven’t before.”

The disconnect between John Calipari and boosters has been well-documented. Jones didn’t go into specifics about what led to the divide but said everybody is back on board, to the point that a new practice facility, Calipari’s white whale, may even be in the conversation.

“It’s safe to say this: the issue was not just an issue with one group of people. It was an issue with a lot of groups of people. And those groups of people now feel back on board.

“And I think you’re going to see — it would not shock me if, within a few months, we hear about a practice facility, which probably would make Cal’s head explode, but it wouldn’t shock me. I’m not saying that’s definitely gonna happen but it wouldn’t it wouldn’t shock me.”

Learn more about Club Blue, which allows fans and businesses to donate to their favorite UK players and programs here.

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2024-05-23