In his inaugural season at the helm, BYU basketball coach Mark Pope guided the Cougars to their first national ranking since the 2010-2011 campaign. 

That was the year the Cougars, propelled by consensus All-American Jimmer Fredette, finished 32-5, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years, and finished No. 10 in the nation. 

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Last season, BYU posted a 24-8 record, ended up No. 18 in the rankings, and was projected to be a single-digit seed in the NCAA tournament before it was canceled due to the global pandemic. 

While the Cougars lost seven seniors from that team, including Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws and Jake Toolson, Pope has reloaded a well-stocked roster with several newcomers, including Purdue grad transfer Matt Haarms and freshman Caleb Lohner. 

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What does Fredette think about Pope’s performance in Provo so far? 

“He’s done a great job,” Fredette told the Deseret News. “They played great basketball and it was unfortunate that he wasn’t able to play in the NCAA tournament. They had a good run and when they played well, they could have beaten anybody. He took over for Dave Rose and he kept the train going that coach Rose built there. Coach Rose had so many 20-win seasons and NCAA tournaments. He had the program going. Coach Pope kept it going.

“He’s such a great recruiter and so personable that he’s getting a lot of great transfers and freshmen to come in to play for his program. He always talks about having a great locker room. You can see the guys have enjoyed it. He’s very energetic and we want this program to succeed. I’m excited to see how things continue to progress. He’s been a breath of fresh air for the program, for sure.”