Advertisement

New Kentucky coach Mark Pope had 3 recruits lined up at BYU. Will they follow him to UK?

The Kentucky men’s basketball program has a new head coach on the way. And the recruiting class he had lined up for 2024 is in stark contrast to that of his predecessor.

On Friday morning, former BYU head coach Mark Pope was announced as the next Kentucky basketball coach.

Pope, a former UK player, was a member of the Wildcats’ 1996 national championship team and has spent the past five seasons as the head coach at BYU. Pope has gone 110-52 with the Cougars and led BYU to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including this year. Before that, Pope spent four seasons as the head coach at Utah Valley.

The 51-year-old Pope will replace John Calipari, UK’s leader for 15 seasons who left to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Calipari was set to bring a six-player recruiting class to Kentucky in 2024. That class was ranked second in the country, behind only Duke. Since Calipari’s departure, three players — small forward Karter Knox (verbal commit) and centers Jayden Quaintance and Somto Cyril (signees) — have decommitted from Kentucky.

The other three players — guards Boogie Fland and Travis Perry (signees) and small forward Billy Richmond (verbal commit) — have not yet issued public statements about their recruitments.

It’s widely expected that most, if not all, of these players will reopen their recruitments, with the high probability that some will follow Calipari to Arkansas.

Meanwhile, Pope’s 2024 recruiting class at BYU included only two players, and neither of those were rated highly by the major recruiting services.

The Cougars were set to welcome two freshmen next season: combo guard Brooks Bahr and power forward Isaac Davis. Both players signed their national letters of intent in the fall with BYU.

According to 247Sports, BYU’s class ranked 67th in the country.

Both Bahr and Davis are ranked as three-star recruits. Over his 15 seasons at Kentucky, Calipari brought in a total of only five three-star recruits, which equates to less than 7% of all the recruits he brought to Lexington.

But, there’s another college basketball freshman that Pope was to bring to BYU next season.

Collin Chandler, a four-star, in-state shooting guard, was originally part of BYU’s 2022 recruiting class. Chandler, ranked No. 37 overall in the 2022 class by the 247Sports Composite, opted to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to enrolling at BYU, and he is set to return home from his two-year service this summer. He was the highest-ranked recruit to directly sign with BYU with Pope as the head coach.

In 2023, BYU brought in only one true freshman, 6-foot-8 Marcus Adams Jr. Adams was a four-star recruit (the No. 51 prospect in the 2023 class according to 247Sports) and graduated high school a year early. He initially signed with Kansas and then committed to Gonzaga. Then, still having not played a college game, Adams signed with BYU.

He played in just one game for BYU last season amid hardships on and off the court. Adams is, once again, in the transfer portal.

Aside from Adams, every other player on the BYU roster last season was at least a redshirt freshman.

But as far as Bahr, Davis and Chandler are concerned, could either player follow Pope to Kentucky?

Here’s what you need to know about each of the three freshmen Pope was set to bring to BYU for next season.

Brooks Bahr (13) is one of BYU’s three incoming freshmen for next season, although one originally committed out of the 2022 class before serving a two-year mission for his church.
Brooks Bahr (13) is one of BYU’s three incoming freshmen for next season, although one originally committed out of the 2022 class before serving a two-year mission for his church.

Brooks Bahr was point guard signee for Mark Pope at BYU

Bahr is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound combo guard from Keller, Texas. He is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as a three-star recruit and the No. 187 player in the 2024 recruiting class.

Bahr committed to BYU last November, and then signed paperwork pledging to become a Cougar. He picked BYU from a final list of schools that also included Saint Mary’s, Southern Cal, Utah and Wake Forest.

Bahr committed to the Cougars as part of a ceremony that was live streamed on the 247Sports YouTube page.

“I just felt like the coaching staff, they knew my game. I built great relationships with them and I like the vision they have for me as a point guard at their school,” Bahr said when he committed. “I think they can develop me into a really good player.”

As a high school junior, Bahr averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.8 steals, according to MaxPreps. Bahr averaged 17.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals last season as a high school senior.

“Brooks Bahr is a combination of Payton Pritchard and Chauncey Billups. He is an explosive, physical, skilled guard who is capable as playmaker, a scorer and a hard-nosed defender,” Pope said when BYU announced Bahr’s signing. “The most impressive thing about Brooks is that his IQ is beyond elite. He studies the game, he is curious about the game and he can’t get enough of the game.”

Bahr, a left-handed guard, suffered a lower leg injury toward the end of his senior season at Keller.

Bahr was the second of the two players in BYU’s 2024 recruiting class to commit to the Cougars.

Isaac Davis was frontcourt recruit for Mark Pope in BYU’s 2024 class

The first player to commit to BYU in the 2024 recruiting class was Isaac Davis, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound power forward out of Idaho.

According to the 247Sports Composite, Davis was ranked as the No. 168 overall recruit in the 2024 recruiting class. Davis was considered a three-star prospect.

Davis committed to BYU in April 2023, and he picked the Cougars from a group of scholarship offers that also included Oklahoma, UNLV, Utah State, VCU and Washington State, among others.

“He has a really special joy and passion about his game,” Pope said when BYU announced the signing of Davis. “He is a multi-dimensional player, who is at the elite level of the game as a passing forward. He’s physical and tenacious as a defender, and we believe that he is going to grow into an elite-level shooter.”

Davis won several state championships with Hillcrest High School in Idaho’s 4A classification.

According to MaxPreps, Davis averaged 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds during his junior season. Last season as a high school senior, Davis averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Mark Pope signed a two-player recruiting class for 2024 while at BYU. Both players are ranked as three-star recruits.
Mark Pope signed a two-player recruiting class for 2024 while at BYU. Both players are ranked as three-star recruits.

Collin Chandler was a generational recruit for BYU basketball

The aforementioned Chandler committed to BYU (as part of the Cougars’ 2022 recruiting class) in November 2021.

“I felt the experience of head coach Mark Pope and the entire coaching staff would help me learn and grow a lot,” Chandler told ESPN when he committed. “They have so much knowledge.”

The Cougars beat out in-state rival Utah to secure Chandler’s commitment.

Per the ESPN recruiting rankings, Chandler was the highest-ranked BYU recruit overall since Eric Mika in 2013.

Chandler, who was then BYU’s first commitment in the 2022 recruiting class, is viewed as an aggressive three-level scorer with the tools to succeed on defense.

Mark Pope confirmed as Kentucky’s basketball coach. ‘Hanging a banner is the expectation.’

Mark Pope might not be the coach Kentucky fans wanted, but he might be the coach UK needs

Kentucky basketball coaching search ends with Mitch Barnhart having questions to answer

What to know about new Kentucky basketball coach and 1996 national champion Mark Pope

Fans and former Wildcats react to Mark Pope being named Kentucky’s next coach

Analysts weigh in on UK hiring Mark Pope: From ‘great move’ to fans aren’t ‘gonna go wild’