Sources: Mark Pope nearing 5-year deal to be Kentucky coach

What Pete Thamel says BYU's Mark Pope would offer Kentucky (2:15)

ESPN's Pete Thamel breaks down what Kentucky coaching target Mark Pope would bring to the Wildcats. (2:15)

After being turned down by multiple top-tier candidates, Kentucky is turning to one of its own as the school's next men's basketball coach.

The Wildcats are finalizing a five-year deal with BYU's Mark Pope, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

Pope, a 1996 Kentucky graduate who played two seasons and won a national title there, has taken BYU to two NCAA tournaments in his five years, including a 23-11 record with a smooth transition to the Big 12 this past season. He has gone 110-52 at BYU and was the head coach at Utah Valley before that, going 77-56 in four campaigns.

He is replacing John Calipari, a Hall of Fame coach who left for Arkansas after posting a 410-123 record with the Wildcats that included a national title and four Final Four appearances.

Pope is well-regarded in coaching circles, as he has a 187-108 career record in nine years as a head coach. He also completed two years of medical school at Columbia University before pivoting to become Georgia's director of basketball operations in 2009.

Kentucky turned to Pope after several high-profile candidates either turned the job down or declared they didn't have interest. Late Thursday morning, Baylor's Scott Drew declined interest in the job after the school flew multiple family members to Lexington on a private plane to check out the area.

"We truly believe God has called my family and I to continue our work here at Baylor," Drew said in a statement.

That decision by Drew came in the wake of three high-profile candidates -- Alabama's Nate Oats, UConn's Dan Hurley and former Villanova coach Jay Wright -- turning down interest in the job before it even opened. Billy Donovan also said he was committed to coaching the Chicago Bulls.

Pope brings a résumé that's light for a job generally considered the best in the sport. He does not have an NCAA tournament win, and No. 6 BYU lost to No. 11 Duquesne 71-67 in the first round this year. In the 2021 tournament, No. 6 BYU lost to No. 11 UCLA in the first round.

By comparison, Calipari had reached 11 combined NCAA tournaments at UMass and Memphis and coached in two Final Fours before taking the Kentucky job. Tubby Smith coached in three Sweet 16s -- two at Tulsa and another at Georgia -- before arriving at Kentucky. Rick Pitino took Providence to the Final Four and coached the New York Knicks before taking over. Even Billy Gillispie coached in three NCAA tournaments and reached the Sweet 16 before being hired by the Wildcats.

Pope has a reputation as an innovative offensive tactician. BYU plays a modern and wide-open offense, predicated on sharing the ball and shooting 3-pointers. In KenPom.com's rankings this season, BYU finished No. 4 in percentage of 3-point field goals attempted at 50.4%. BYU also ranked No. 2 in 3-point distribution, with 41% of its points coming from 3-pointers. The school had assists on 63.4% of its made field goals, which ranked No. 6 in the country. Overall, BYU had the country's No. 14 offensive efficiency.

BYU plays an aesthetically pleasing style, which should be attractive in recruiting shooters.

Pope worked as an assistant at Wake Forest and BYU before getting the Utah Valley head-coaching job in 2015. He is a native of Bellevue, Washington, and served as a captain on Kentucky's 1996 national title team.