Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics
Recent rumors have been confirmed to be true, as UVU’s Mark Pope is expected to take the job at BYU. Pope leaves behind UVU’s men’s basketball program after their all-time best season, racking in 25 total wins and a home record of 14-1 in 2018-2019. The feeling of a coaching position at BYU will be all too familiar for Pope, as he previously was an assistant coach there for four seasons before taking the head coaching job at UVU.
The decision to take the job was considered to be a tough one, seeing as UVU’s upcoming season seems to be one of the most promising they have had in a long while (potentially the most promising in program history). Comparatively, BYU’s program has plateaued in recent years under previous head coach Dave Rose. With the Cougars failing to make the NCAA tournament yet again, and losing a star in junior Yoeli Childs, Pope will have his work cut out for him in Provo.
Pope leaves behind a legacy of new highs for the program, as well as being beloved by his players and fellow staff members. Pope set records in total wins, attendance, three-pointers made in a season, and total points in a season. He also lead the Wolverines to having the longest active home win-streak in the nation in the 2018-19 season, touting 22 wins in a row playing in The UCCU Center.
Pope will also be remembered for giving players a second chance, as the recent accomplishment of BYU transfer Jake Toolson’s 2018-19 WAC Player of the Year honor rings true to Pope’s dedication to building-up transfer players. The memory of former forward Isaac Neilson’s 26 point performance in UVU’s win over his previous school, BYU, is a testament to the turnarounds that Pope was a facilitator of during his coaching career as a Wolverine.
Coming off of the best season yet and bringing back much of the active roster this year, including the WAC player of the year in Toolson, provides a bright outlook for the Wolverines going into the next season. However, replacing a coach of Pope’s standard will be a tough task — and the future coach of the Wolverines will face immense pressure as many are left to wonder what will become of the Wolverines come Fall 2019.