Chris Popp is in his first season as head basketball coach at Missouri State University-West Plains. Popp comes to Missouri State-West Plains with 15 years of coaching experience, nine at the NCAA Division II level. He has been on staff with three collegiate programs, all of which were nationally ranked during his tenure. He has recruited, coached and developed 34 all-conference performers, two All-Americans, three Freshman of the Year selections and 13 student athletes who went on to play professionally.
For the past five years, he has served as the first assistant coach with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS) Lions, which competes in NCAA Division II's Heartland Conference. During his time at UAFS, the Lions won back-to-back conference championships, were ranked as high as No. 16 nationally and earned two at-large bids to the NCAA Division II tournament. This past season, the Lions went 23-9, were ranked 24th and returned to the national tournament as the No. 6 seed in the South Central Region. As the Lions' first assistant coach, Popp was recruiting, academic and scheduling coordinator and coached post players.
Prior to his position at UAFS, Popp was an assistant coach at Newman University, another Heartland Conference team, in Wichita, Kansas. His responsibilities included recruiting, scouting report preparation, academic supervision, off-season physical and skill development and on-court coaching, specifically post players. He helped the program transition to NCAA Division II competition and guided it to a second place conference finish in its first official season at that level. He also guided the team to a No. 21 national ranking while serving as the team's interim head coach at the start of the 2005-06 season. He recruited and developed 14 all-conference players, including five post players, and aided in the success of three NAIA National Scholar-Athletes and 11 All-Heartland Conference Scholar-Athletes. He also served as Newman's game management director from 2006-2010 and its sports information director from 2005-2007.
Popp spent the 2004-05 season as first assistant coach at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. During his tenure, the Bluejays were the No. 1 team in the nation in defensive shooting percentage, No. 3 in defensive scoring and were ranked as high as No. 14 in the nation by the NAIA. The Blue Jays also won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Championship and reached the Sweet 16 of the NAIA National Championship Tournament in Branson.
He started his coaching career at Derby High School in Derby, Kansas, where he was assistant coach of the boys' varsity basketball team and head coach of the boys' junior varsity basketball team from 2001-2004. In those three years, Derby never finished lower than third in the Ark Valley League.
Popp graduated from Wichita Northwest High School in Wichita, Kansas and was a member of the 1994 6A State Runner-up Northwest Grizzlies. He went on to play at Tabor, where, as a starter, he helped lead the Bluejays to a national ranking multiple years, win the KCAC Conference Championship, and reach the Sweet 16 of the NAIA National Tournament.
He and his wife, Dianne, a former Olympic basketball player for New Zealand and a standout at Wichita State University, have two children, son Vaughan and daughter Autumn.