Connect with us

Men's Basketball

John Calipari and Kentucky Freshmen Recognized with Honorary Midseason Awards

Published

on

Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham
UK Athletics

With conference play finally being here, enough games have now been played to get a grasp on every team around the country. With that, The Field of 68 came up with their midseason award winners. A handful of Kentucky Wildcats were mentioned.

Coach of the Year: John Calipari

With Kentucky sitting at 9-2, The Field of 68 has named John Calipari as their Coach of the Year. Kentucky’s only losses have come to No. 2 Kansas and UNC-Wilmington, but the ‘Cats have some pretty good wins to help negate the loss to the Seahawks.

Kentucky’s first signature win of the season came against then No. 8 Miami in dominating fashion. Behind Reed Sheppard’s 21 points and three steals, Kentucky throttled the Hurricanes 95-73. Then Rob Dillingham’s 17 points put Kentucky over No. 9 North Carolina 87-83.

Advertisement

Both Sheppard and Dillingham have put up exceptional numbers in big time games to help Kentucky get to where they are now. If it weren’t for the spark that those two provide, Kentucky would not be in discussions as one of the best teams in the nation.

Freshman of the Year: Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham

The Field of 68 couldn’t pick just one Kentucky freshman to win Freshman of the Year. Both freshmen came in under the radar, but both have definitely caught the eyes of everyone watching college basketball. Between Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham, who’s been better?

Sheppard is currently averaging 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.8 steals per game this season. With 31 steals through 11 games, the in-state talent is on pace to give Rajon Rondo a run for his money for the single season steals record.

Then, there’s Dillingham. The former Overtime Elite (OTE) prospect is second on the team in scoring with 14.2 points per game while shooting 46.8% from the field and 44.4% from deep. Dillingham’s elite shooting has propelled Kentucky to being the third best three-point shooting team in the country.

Advertisement

Men's Basketball

Rick Pitino Endorses Mark Pope, “He Will Lead The Kentucky Wildcats To Another Championship”

Published

on

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports/ Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The captain of Rick Pitino’s 1996 “Untouchables”, Mark Pope, is “coming home” to lead the Kentucky Wildcats as the program’s next head coach, officially announced on Friday. While there has been some criticism of the hire, Pitino says he “couldn’t be any prouder to see Mark Pope lead the Kentucky Wildcats.”

While Pope has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in two appearances, Pitino points out that several top coaches had their trials early in their careers. It took Jay Wright 11 seasons to win his first NCAA Tournament, and Billy Donovan was hired at Florida without an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, he heralds Pope as one of the “premier young coaches” in college basketball.

“Offensively, no one does it better,” Pitino said. “The way his teams move. The way his teams shoot the three. The ball movement. It’s outstanding.”

Advertisement

It’s just the X’s and O’s though, Pitino “guarantees” that Pope loves and understands the program as well as anyone. “I can guarantee to you one thing, that nobody epitomizes the name on the front of the jersey more than Mark Pope.”

“Mark Pope will go on to greatness. You can put it down,” Pitino said. “He will do you proud. “He will lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another championship”

If his endorsement isn’t enough, Rick Pitino says he will “write the check himself” for NIL to help Pope be successful.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

Mark Pope Releases Statement As He Is Announced As Kentucky Basketball Coach

Published

on

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Per UK Athletics

When his alma mater came calling, Mark Pope knew there was no place like home.

Pope, a captain of the University of Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship team, has returned to Lexington as the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s storied men’s basketball program, announced Friday.

Advertisement

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball,” Pope said. “It’s the definition of a blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year. Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

“I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

Pope is a nine-year head coaching veteran with stops at BYU and Utah Valley, amassing a 187-108 career record. His squads won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons and he has made six postseason appearances.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

REPORT: Mark Pope Set Sign Five-Year Deal to Become Next Kentucky Basketball Coach

Published

on

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has found their guy. Former Wildcat and NCAA Champion, Mark Pope, is now expected to be named the next Kentucky basketball coach on a five-year contract worth $5.5 million annually, first reported by CBS Sports. For perspective, based on last season’s salaries, that is more than Dan Hurley (UConn), Scott Drew (Baylor), and Nate Oats (Alabama).

Pope comes to Kentucky with nine seasons of head coaching experience, after serving as an assistant for six seasons, from 2009-2015. In 2015, he was hired by Utah Valley where he coached for four seasons. In 2019, Pope was hired at BYU where he has taken them to two NCAA Tournaments, but has been upset by a double-digit seed in both appearances.

Pope has proven himself as a good X-and-O coach in his nine-year career, running one of the most innovative offenses in the country, but recruiting will be a real test as he has never signed a four-star recruit. Who he hires on to his staff and collecting NIL support will be critical.

Advertisement

The move has been met with much fan criticism, as fans have been quick to point out that Pope has never won a conference title or an NCAA Tournament game. However, Mitch Barnhart is confident in the move, with some reporting that he is “excited” with the hire.

Just three days into the coaching search, this is an interesting hire with several big names like Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl potentially available. Barnhart made the decision not to wait for Donovan, who is currently coaching the Chicago Bulls, and Pearl was not considered due to his “baggage”.

A new era of Kentucky basketball has begun.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending