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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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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Limited oral history of the Final Four-winning 1999-2000 Florida Gators basketball team

Exactly 15 years ago today, then-34-year-old head coach Billy Donovan led the Florida Gators to the first Final Four victory in program history.

The 1999-2000 Gators were a special group, which included four NBA players (three of whom are still in the league), a young but hungry coaching staff (every assistant went on to be head coaches elsewhere) and a 10-man rotation that allowed Florida to be relentless on both ends of the court throughout entire games.

Those Gators captured just the second Southeastern Conference regular-season title in school history, played in the national championship game for the first time in school history and were ranked wire-to-wire that season for, you guessed it, the first time in school history.

It was a transcendent Florida team that came together to overcome tremendous obstacles, including a overall No. 1-ranked team in Duke – with Shane Battier, Jay Williams, Carlos Booser, Chris Carrawell and Mike Dunleavy – that would go on to win the national title the following season.

OnlyGators.com wanted to tell the story of these Gators through the eyes of those who were actually there. As such, we reached out to guard Teddy Dupay and forward Brent Wright to recount one of the biggest moments in program history on its 15th anniversary.

With the 2014-15 Final Four being played in Indianapolis – the same site as the 1999-2000 Four – and featuring two of the same teams (Michigan State, Wisconsin), the stars could not be better aligned for a look back.

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FOUR BITS: Bonner, Tebow, Noah, Wambach

1 » During an NBA game on Friday, former Florida Gators forward Matt Bonner received an uppercut to the groin courtesy of Boston’s Marcus Smart, who was ejected from the game and subsequently suspended one game by the league. Smart claimed it was unintentional and “just a freak accident,” noting that Bonner likely would’ve gone after him had he thought it to be intentional. Bonner, a 10-year veteran who is averaging 4.0 points and 1.6 boards for the San Antonio Spurs, has yet to discuss the incident.

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4 BITS: Every, women’s basketball, gymnastics

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every on Sunday clinched his first-ever PGA Tour victory, winning the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL. Every, whose third-round 66 vaulted him into the lead, finished -13 for the tournament and edged Keegan Bradley by a single stroke. The victory results in him receiving earnings of $1.12 million (more than he has made in the rest of his career, combined), 500 FedEx Cup points and an automatic qualification to the 2014 Masters in April. A native of Daytona Beach, FL, Every played at Bay Hill dozens of times throughout his life and long dreamed of winning a PGA Tour event at the course, which is located about an hour from where he grew up.

At Florida from 2003-06, Every was a four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-SEC selection. He is the second former Gators golfer to capture a PGA Tour event title in as many years after Billy Horschel won the 2013 Zurich Classic last April.

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