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Jasper Johnson talks recruitment and Mark Pope

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Once he became the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, Mark Pope said that his goal was to still recruit the best high school talent in the country while also using the transfer portal.

It is also important to Pope that he keeps the best in-state talent home and in Lexington.

2025 combo guard Jasper Johnson fits both categories, as the Lexington native is currently ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the class.

In an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio, Johnson talked about his relationship with Pope, who has prioritized Johnson since taking the job.

“It means a lot, having a head coach that really trusts me and believes that I can impact his team from day one,” Johnson said. “He’s going after portal kids, but that’s what you need to win at the next level, mixing (young) talent with grit and experience. That’s a really good thing that he trusts and believes in me.”

One thing about Pope is he understands what it means to put on that Kentucky uniform and play for the greatest program in the history of college basketball. Being the 1996 National Champion, Pope knows what winning means to the BBN.

“Being from there, there’s always pride playing with Kentucky,” Johnson said. “They get everybody’s best game. Him coming in first year, he’s got high expectations, but they’ve built up a good roster and I’ll be interested to see what they do … He was in my shoes at one time, he played there. Knowing that he understands the game and that he believes in his players, as well — I know there’s a difference with the SEC, but they’ll have a good season this year.”

As for his recruitment, Johnson remains completely open, and he understands that coaches coming to see him play is not only good for him.

So far, schools like Kentucky, Baylor, Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisville, Auburn, Florida State, and Ohio State have been in attendance for his games.

It will be interesting to see how this recruitment plays out, but there is no doubt that Johnson is a top priority for Pope in the 2025 class.

You can check out everything Johnson had to say here.

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