Billy Donovan supports John Pelphrey for Florida Gators job, hopes program doesn’t take step back

Monday’s farewell press conference with now-former Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan featured plenty of recollection over his 19-year career in Gainesville, Florida, but it was also a time to look forward to the future of the program and who might replace arguably the best team sports coach in school history.

As such, Donovan was not bashful in supporting Gators assistant coach John Pelphrey – his former player at Kentucky and long-time assistant (at Marshall, two stints at Florida) – for the role when asked directly about his potential candidacy.

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Who’s next? Archie Miller leads 11 candidates to replace Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan

For the second time in his tenure at the helm of the Florida Gators, athletic director Jeremy Foley will be tasked with hiring a new head basketball coach, this after Billy Donovan left for the NBA after a successful 19-year run with the program.

Under Donovan, the Gators won two national titles and a bevy of league crowns, reaching new heights never thought possible for Florida basketball. Foley will be searching for a coach to help Donovan’s legacy endure and keep the Gators running as a prominent national program.

What characteristics will Foley likely be looking for as he makes this hire? Head coaching experience, for one. Most of UF’s successful hires under Foley have held their respective positions before, albeit at less-prestigious programs. Foley may also be looking for youth in order to replicate the Donovan model and bring on an up-and-coming young talent that can remain with the program for the long haul if all works out.

“Like we have with other recent searches, we will have an internal working group that will identify candidates to be our next head coach,” Foley said. “I don’t intend to put a timeline on our hire, but we will work hard to have the right person in place over the coming weeks.”

Here are 11 coaches who could be leading the Florida basketball program in 2015-16.

Continue Reading » Who’s next? Archie Miller leads 11 candidates to replace Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan

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Reports: Oklahoma City Thunder set to sign Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan, announcement soon

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan is preparing to sign a multi-year contract to leave the college ranks for the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder set to name him the replacement for Scott Brooks, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported late Wednesday and Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed Thursday afternoon.

According to Stein, who is citing sources, Donovan will be announced as the Thunder’s new coach on Thursday or Friday and “only an unforeseen collapse at this stage would prevent the sides from finazling a deal after two days of advanced negotiations.”

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Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan talking contract with Oklahoma City, weighing options

Updated at 4:25 p.m.

Long reported to be the top choice of Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti to replace the ousted Scott Brooks, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan is engaged in deep discussions with the franchise about its open position and is “leaning strongly toward taking the job,” according to ESPN.com‘s Marc Stein and Andy Katz.

Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday afternoon that the two sides “have started discussing the framework of a contract” and “there’s confidence on both sides that a deal can be reached” despite one not yet being in place as of press time.

Sources close to the Florida basketball program told OnlyGators.com earlier Wednesday afternoon that the expectation is that Donovan will leave the team, though officials are holding out hope that he remains with the Gators.

Stein and Katz note that while “Donovan’s family is willing to move to Oklahoma … he is weighing both sides” of the decision with a resolution expected within the next 48 hours.

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Florida coach Billy Donovan remains silent as Oklahoma City Thunder speculation grows

Aside from wishing Chris Walker well in a short written statement released by the team on Friday, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has remained silent as speculation surrounding him leaving college for the NBA grows stronger by the day.

Minutes after the Oklahoma City Thunder fired head coach Scott Brooks, Donovan was listed by multiple reporters as general manager Sam Presti’s top choice to fill the role.

At the time, Donovan was on the road recruiting, which he continued doing until he returned to Gainesville, Florida, on Friday. The break was short-lived, however, as Donovan hopped back on the school’s private jet that evening to travel to Lexington, Kentucky, and attend an AAU basketball showcase featuring some of the top prospects in the nation.

While all this was going on, the drum beat got louder for Donovan to head to OKC.

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Billy Donovan to Oklahoma City rumors flare up after Thunder fires coach Scott Brooks

Updated Thursday at 8:25 a.m.

The Oklahoma City Thunder fired head coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday, and Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has already been tabbed as a “serious candidate” and the potential favorite to replace him.

Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported Brooks’ dismissal, cited in the story that “Donovan is expected to become a serious candidate” to replace Brooks, the second time he mentioned Donovan’s name with the Oklahoma City job. ESPN‘s Marc Stein has called Donovan the “natural favorite” to replace Brooks, while the network’s Jeff Goodman immediately referred to the fact that Thunder general manager Sam Presti hired two front office members off Donovan’s staff just one year ago.

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Anthony Grant re-hired to Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators coaching staff as assistant

The gang is getting back together again.

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan on Monday announced that former assistant Anthony Grant will rejoin the program to replace assistant Matt McCall, who left the team Sunday evening to take the head coaching job at Chattanooga.

Grant, who joined Donovan’s first Florida coaching staff as an assistant from 1996-2006, left after the Gators’ first national title to take over as head coach at VCU. He was hired by Alabama in 2009 but released by the school this offseason after serving nine combined seasons as a head coach at both stops.

“Pretty easy call, man. It’s all about relationships,” said Grant in Florida’s announcement of his hiring. “Pretty much everyone in that office is like family to me. So this is like coming home. The way it all worked out? God has a plan.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to getting down there and doing what I love to do. I have a lot to get familiar with. I’m the new guy coming in. I know Billy and the staff were disappointed with the results last year, but there are some good pieces in place, and the roster, I feel, will be talented next season.”

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Florida Gators assistant Matt McCall officially named head coach at Chattanooga

Updated Sunday at 10:15 p.m.

Florida Gators assistant basketball coach Matt McCall will be named the next head coach of the Chattanooga Mocs, two sources confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Sunday evening.

McCall, a former Florida student manager, head manager and director of basketball operations, returned to the Gators as an assistant coach in 2011 after a stint at Florida Atlantic and has spent the last four seasons with the program.

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