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 basketball schedule announced for 2015 Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament

For two years, the Florida Gators have been reported to be a participant in the upcoming 2015 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. On Tuesday, their participation was made official when the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially announced the event’s schedule.

The Tip-Off Tournament includes on-campus and bracketed games. Florida joins Old Dominion, Purdue and Saint Joseph’s in the Naismith Bracket, while Buffalo, Niagara, North Carolina A&T and Vermont make up the Springfield Bracket.

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Eli Carter to transfer from Florida Gators

Eli Carter, a guard transfer from Rutgers who was made eligible immediately and played one full season with the Florida Gators, will transfer for the second time in his college career, a source close to the program confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here at Florida,” Carter said in a statement released by the school. “I’ll always appreciate the coaches, teammates and fans that made my time here memorable.”

CBSSports.com‘s Jon Rothstein first reported Carter’s move, noting that the player will be immediately eligible in 2015-16 as he will earn his undergraduate degree. The Gators confirmed it later in the day.

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Florida Gators basketball to open 2015-16 season against Navy in 2015 Veterans Classic

For the first time in 15 years, Florida Gators basketball will open a season on the road when it takes on the Navy Midshipmen in the 2015 Veterans Classic at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Florida and Navy will square off in the second game of the event, which is being held at the U.S. Naval Academy base. Game one features North Carolina and Temple going head-to-head at 7 p.m.

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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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Florida’s Chris Walker declares for NBA Draft

Sophomore center Chris Walker, a highly-touted five-star prospect who struggled to make an impact in two years with the Florida Gators, has decided to leave the team to try his hand at becoming a professional basketball player.

Walker has officially declared for the 2015 NBA Draft, joining junior guard Michael Frazier II, who left the program weeks ago. Walker’s declaration comes two days before the NBA’s Sunday draft declaration deadline.

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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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TWO BITS: Beal on Donovan, Wambach honored

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal, now with the Washington Wizards, appeared on The Dan Patrick Show Friday and discussed whether he believes Florida head coach Billy Donovan will be successful in the NBA should he choose to leave the Gators. “I think he’d be great. I agree with the rumors. I think he’ll definitely leave. He won’t pass that opportunity up too many times,” Beal said. “And I think he’ll be a tremendous coach. He loves playing the pick and rolls. He loves to space the floor and he loves to give his players freedom. I definitely think he’ll excel in the league.”

Read without context, that can be taken as Beal suggesting he knows Donovan will leave Florida; however, in the context of the question, it is more of an assessment of his former coach’s ability to succeed in the league, especially since the “rumors” are not guaranteeing he is leaving the Gators but rather citing it as a possibility.

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