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Coach Cal calls Mark Pope a “great addition” for Kentucky

If you thought this would be a bitter coaching rivalry between Mark Pope and Coach Cal after what was an all-time whirlwind offseason, think again. In fact, the Southeastern Conference foes were about as hot as you could imagine given the circumstances, from Pope to Kentucky and John Calipari to Arkansas.

“I’m so grateful for everything John Calipari has done,” Pope told ESPN shortly after moving to Lexington. “John revolutionized the way recruiting happens and the style of play in college basketball. What he did in Kentucky is truly incredible. We are all so grateful for that.”

From there, the two were cozy in Indianapolis during the first live period of the recruiting cycle, sharing hugs and laughter among thousands of coaches in attendance at EYBL Session III. They stood side by side and looked at the high-profile prospects in attendance, shaking hands all weekend and exchanging nods every time they saw each other.

Nothing but love between the current and former Kentucky coaches.

Coach Cal calls Mark Pope a ‘great addition’

We got (very) brief thoughts from Calipari on Pope earlier this month when he took to social media to share one final farewell with Big Blue Nation.

“I love and respect Coach Pope. He and his staff will be successful,” he said at the time – succinctly. Now he has gone one step further and explained during the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin that his successor is undoubtedly the man for the job.

“I thought it was a great addition,” Calipari said. “(At the Final Four) he couldn’t have been more proud of what Kentucky did. I didn’t know at the time that he would be the coach, but I think he is a great signing.”

Calipari brings new ‘formula’ to Fayetteville

Pope’s move to Kentucky wasn’t the only thing Calipari brought up in Destin. The new Arkansas coach also talked about the roster formation and what will happen next in Fayetteville.

Remember when Coach Cal zigzagged with young talent last season while the rest of college basketball zigged with old, experienced pieces? He says the way he built his team last year just doesn’t work anymore.

“The lesson was you can’t do this right now with seven freshmen,” Calipari said. ‘You just can’t do that. You’re going to face a team that averages 25 years old, one was 26, and that team is going to get you physically, and now we’ve got some older transfers, some kids that transferred from Kentucky and they’ve moved on and they’re a year old. older, and a few freshmen.”

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