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.

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.”

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Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for LakerCountry.com and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.