The third member of Mark Pope’s staff is official. He’s a familiar coach to Kentucky fans.

A familiar face will be returning to the SEC, and this time he’ll be on the Kentucky sideline.

Former Georgia head coach Mark Fox was officially announced as the third member of Mark Pope’s first staff at UK on Wednesday.

Fox will be one of five assistant coaches for the Kentucky men’s basketball team next season. He will fill the first of two positions that do not include off-campus recruiting duties. His official title is associate coach. Fox, who has 18 years of head coaching experience at the Division I level, spent last season in a support staff role at Georgetown University.

“This opportunity is extra special because, not only do I get to work at one of the most traditional basketball powers in the country, but I also get to work with a former player and a former staff member who is like family to me,” Fox said in a statement released by UK on Wednesday afternoon.

Fox actually gave Pope his first job in college basketball coaching 15 years ago, when Pope left medical school to join Fox’s staff before his first season in charge of the Georgia program. Pope worked the 2009-10 season under Fox before heading to Wake Forest to work as an assistant under Jeff Bzdelik, who had coached him in the NBA.

From there, Pope went to BYU, his final assistant coaching job before being named the head coach at Utah Valley in 2015. He became the head coach at BYU four years later.

Mark Fox has been the head coach at Nevada, Georgia and California, and he was most recently on staff at Georgetown during the 2023-24 season.
Mark Fox has been the head coach at Nevada, Georgia and California, and he was most recently on staff at Georgetown during the 2023-24 season.

Fox, 55, is a Garden City, Kansas, native and began his coaching career in 1991 as an assistant at Washington, where Pope played two years under him before transferring to Kentucky after Huskies head coach Lynn Nance was fired following the 1992-93 season.

After spending another 10 years as an assistant — first at Kansas State and then at Nevada — Fox was named Nevada’s head coach and led the Wolfpack to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of his first three seasons on the job, winning the Western Athletic Conference title in four of his five years at the school before taking over at Georgia in 2009.

In nine seasons with the Bulldogs, he had a 77-79 record in the SEC and made two NCAA Tournament appearances, qualifying for the NIT three times during his tenure. Georgia has not returned to the NCAA Tournament or had a winning league record in the six seasons since his departure.

Fox had less success at his most recent head coaching stop, going 38-87 overall and 17-61 in the Pac-12 in four seasons at California before joining Ed Cooley’s staff at Georgetown last offseason.

Particularly known for his prowess as a defensive coach, Fox’s last four Georgia teams all finished in the top 50 nationally in defensive efficiency, according to the KenPom ratings, and two of those teams were ranked top 30 in the country. His first Nevada team was No. 13 nationally in defensive efficiency, achieving that mark during Fox’s first season as a head coach.

“I can’t believe that I get to work with Mark Fox,” Pope said. “Our relationship began at the University of Washington when I was a freshman and ever since then he has been an incredible mentor to me over the years. He even hired me for my first job.

“He is one of the most intelligent and most detailed-oriented coaches in all of college basketball. Mark has coached NBA draft picks. He’s coached teams in the NCAA Tournament. He’s recruited the best players in the country, and he’s dealt with every changing dynamic in college basketball over the last 25 years. Coach Fox is going to be a lynchpin in all that we do at the University of Kentucky. I’m glad to welcome Cindy and their family to Big Blue Nation.”

Fox joins a Kentucky staff that already includes former BYU assistant Cody Fueger, who has been praised for his innovative offensive tactics, and former G League Ignite head coach Jason Hart, who played with Pope in the NBA and helped mentor several draft picks in his role with Ignite.

Longtime Baylor assistant coach Alvin Brooks III is also expected to be officially named to Pope’s staff in the coming days. Brooks will have the title of associate head coach, and he’ll be the third assistant — along with Fueger and Hart — to join Pope in off-campus recruiting efforts.

The fifth and final assistant spot for Pope’s initial Kentucky staff has not yet been filled.

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