Burroughs High stayed within the community when it came to hiring a new boys’ basketball coach. But the Bears took someone from the other side of town as former Burbank High star Austin Pope has been named the new coach.
“I decided to do this job for a reason and it was the city of Burbank,” Pope said.
Pope, 28, graduated from Burbank in 2013 and went on to play at North Idaho College and later Chaminade University in Hawaii.
After his college career, Pope went on to play professionally in Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Serbia and also in the NBA’s G-League.
Over the years, Pope has remained close to the community and has even conducted local camps.
Some of the kids who attended those camps are now going to be his players.
“I’m not looking to build with transfers, I’m looking to build with kids from Burbank,” Pope said. “I’m not afraid to develop because I know development is key. Development skill wise and understanding the game and by their junior and senior years they are going to building so much camaraderie and so much character and skill they are going to be able to compete in the playoffs every year.”
This past season, Pope served as an assistant coach at Viewpoint School in Calabasas.
“I talked with my former boss and he told me I was ready to be a head coach and don’t let anybody tell you different,” Pope said. “I put my hat in the ring for Burroughs and I was focused on that. A lot of people wanted me to apply to different places, but I was really focused on building that program back up.”
Pope said he has already met with the physical education teachers at the local middle schools trying to find out who some of the up-and-coming players might be.
“I’m trying to accumulate the best talent and get them into our gym,” Pope said. Pope said he is working on a master’s degree and plans to be a substitute teacher with the goal of becoming a full-time teacher.
He said he already has circled on his calendar the first time he will play in the Burbank High gym as a visitor.
“I’ve never lost to Burroughs,” he said.