PROVO — It’s been a little more than one week since BYU announced the hiring of Mark Pope as its head basketball coach and he’s been busy doing media interviews, recruiting and assembling his staff.
One of Pope’s priorities, according to sources, is making inroads in international recruiting. In May, he’s planning to travel to Europe to build contacts in Lithuania, Serbia and Spain as part of a search for talent.
Many of the elite programs around the country, such as West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga, have international players on their rosters and the Cougars are apparently preparing to scour the world for potential recruits.
“We’re going to have to cast a really, really big net,” Pope said during his introductory press conference. “We’ll cast our net throughout the entire country and around the world. We have the capability here to do that. We have the resources to be able to go do that. That’s something we’re really excited about. It will take an inordinate amount of work and time to do it. … I am incredibly confident that we will be able to put together rosters that will exceed expectations. … We need to find young men that are really talented players that have big dreams.”
As far as Pope’s staff at BYU, it’s likely it will look very similar to the one he had at Utah Valley University.
Pope said last week he was “actually pretty far down the road with assistants … I've been blessed to work with a great staff at (UVU) and I think we have a really good idea of where we're going with that."
Last Monday, UVU hired Mark Madsen, the former Los Angeles Lakers assistant, as its new head coach.
Pope’s former assistants at UVU — Chris Burgess, Cody Fueger and Eric Daniels as well as director of basketball operations Bobby Horodyski — are strong candidates, sources say, as well as Seattle University assistant Nick Robinson, the former head coach at Southern Utah University.
Burgess started his coaching career as an undergraduate assistant at the University of Utah. Then he served as an assistant at Salt Lake Community College and Indian Hills.19 comments on this story
“Chris is a key part to my staff. Not only has he excelled as a player, but has also proven his skill, acumen and dedication as a coach,” Pope has said of Burgess. “He is an energetic teacher and a smart basketball tactician. He has proven his ability to build strong and lasting relationships with players, recruits and colleagues. Chris is incredible asset to Utah Valley and is destined to be a star in this business.”
Fueger has been in the coaching business for 16 years, starting at Utah as the video coordinator and student assistant. Then came stops at Louisiana Tech, UC Riverside, Utah State, BYU and Utah Valley.
“Coach Fueger is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the nation,” Pope has said. “He has the passion, hunger and drive that defines great coaches. He’s going to be a tremendous head coach.”