Mark Pope has reached out to some elite players in the 2026 class

Mark Pope is starting to hit the recruiting trail hard.
University of Kentucky’s new men’s basketball coach Mark Pope speaks about the future of Kentucky men’s basketball during his introductory press conference to thousands of fans in Rupp Arena on Sunday, April 14, 2024.
University of Kentucky’s new men’s basketball coach Mark Pope speaks about the future of Kentucky men’s basketball during his introductory press conference to thousands of fans in Rupp Arena on Sunday, April 14, 2024. / Clare Grant/Courier Journal / USA TODAY
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A big part of recruiting is relationships, and Kentucky Coach Mark Pope is behind in the 2025 class as he was just hired. Coach Pope is leaving a good impression with recruits, and it seems like the Wildcat's new head coach is going to land some elite players.

When it comes to the 2026 class, Coach Pope is getting going at the right time. The direct contact window for the 2026 class opened recently, and Kentucky has already reached out to some elite players. Coach Pope has reached out to two top ten players in the class, Caleb Holt and Alex Constanza. Coach Pope also reached out to four-star TreVaun Clark.

Coach Pope has to prove that he can land elite players from high school if he is going to be able to sustain success as Kentucky's head coach. When Kentucky hired Coach Pope, Big Blue Nation knew he would be elite with the X's and O's, but the question about his tenure will be, can he recruit?

He did an excellent job in the transfer portal, putting together a top-15 roster in all of college basketball in just under a month.

When it comes to his teams for the 2025-26 and 2026-27 seasons, Coach Pope will need to land some players from high school and not rely on the portal. This is his plan, and he shouldn't have any issues recruiting McDonald's All-American type players.

If Coach Pope is able to start landing some elite players from high school, Kentucky is going to be an elite program over his tenure.


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Andrew Stefaniak

ANDREW STEFANIAK