Yahoo analyst likes what Pope is doing at Kentucky

Mark Pope can successfully recruit at Kentucky without doing it the same way as former coach John Calipari who liked to load up with highly ranked freshmen year after year.

YahooSports NBA draft analyst/college basketball writer Krysten Peek said signing Collin Chandler, a one-time BYU signee who has been on a two-year mission trip, was a “big win” for Pope.

“He was one of the best players in his recruiting class before going on his mission,” she said. “I think he is going to surprise a lot of people. That was a great flip for Pope and Kentucky.”

Peek said the Kentucky fan base will still carry weight with recruits even with Pope as the coach. She also says the fact he won as a player at Kentucky and runs an NBA-style offense will help.

“I think he will be just fine. Yes, Calipari leaving and bringing in Pope changes the way Kentucky will recruit so he can get players to fit his offense and what he wants to do and get a guy like Collin Chandler who does not have tunnel vision to the NBA.

“There will not be a roster full of one-and-done players again at Kentucky but I honestly think Mark Pope will be just fine. Recruits will see videos of sold out Rupp Arena and how BBN was so excited at that press conference. All that resonates with players. It’s a new era and new chapter of Kentucky basketball.”

Peek said there will likely be no more No. 1 or No. 2 recruiting classes like Kentucky got used to with Calipari.

“Pope plays more of a NBA style game with spacing and how he uses his bigs,” Peek said. “Kentucky is still a top program with recruits. There will not be multiple five-star recruits in one class. It will be more like UConn sprinkling in elite recruits with transfer portal guys. It’s going to be different but that’s not bad. Pope’s playing style will be a positive in what Kentucky fans wanted from Calipari and his system.”

What about NIL money? How much will that impact Pope’s recruiting?

“Some recruits will go for NIL. There are always going to be money kids who have a starting bid number.With Pope and what he wants to build at Kentucky I do not think he will go after the highest bid. He is not going to win if you are bidding against Kentucky’s old coach now at Arkansas with his NIL budget. I just do not think Pope will want get into bidding wars.

“Pope will find players in the portal and then sprinkle in some top recruits and you are not going to see almost an entire roster turnaround every year like you have seen the last 12 years or so.”

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