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.”
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.
Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan knew for a while that he would have two staffers leaving the program this offseason, and it all became a reality last week when assistant to the head coach Mark Daigneault and video coordinator Oliver Winterbone both departed to join the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.
Daigneault was hired as the head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the 66ers, while Winterbone accepted a basketball information analyst position with Oklahoma City’s front office. (The 66ers are moving from Tulsa to Oklahoma City this season.)
Donovan did not wait long to fill the staffing holes and keep his machine running.
On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that Donovan will hire veteran assistant coach Billy Schmidt to fill the off-court assistant position vacated by Daigneault.
Schmidt has spent the last 11 seasons coaching under Brian Gregory including eight at Dayton and the last three at Georgia Tech. He was Gregory’s first hire, joining the Flyers after spending nine seasons coaching in major conferences. Schmidt’s journey began as a manager with Wake Forest (1988-92) but continued with stops at Tennessee (1994-97), Northwestern (1997-2000) and under Tommy Amaker both at Seton Hall (2000) and Michigan (2001-03).
OnlyGators.com learned Monday evening that Donovan has also desired to hire Peter Gash to replace Winterbone as video coordinator.
Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) has been strong throughout the season and especially the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
It continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007 with a 62-52 Elite Eight win over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.
Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game. OnlyGators.com has also added a few other choice contributions that fit in with the overall theme.
This team is special. I thank God for everything this team has accomplished. God is so good thank you for allowing us to be #FINALFOURBOUND
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.
Florida Gators basketball picked up its first verbal commitment for the Class of 2016 on Saturday when power forward John Mooney (Altamonte Springs, FL) pledged to continue his career in Gainesville, FL.
At 6’7” and 210 pounds (as of July), Mooney is a sophomore in high school and likely still has some growing to do before he steps foot on campus in three years.
He averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Lake Brantley High School and was just the third freshman in the last nine years to play on varsity, according to head coach Mike Cuff.
Mooney also plays for the Nike Team Florida travel program, which had former Gators Chandler Parsons and Nick Calathes on its roster while they were in high school.
His brother, Brendan Mooney, committed to Spring Hill College to play basketball as a member of the school’s 2013 recruiting class.
Mooney was recruited by Florida assistant Matt McCall and committed to the Gators following an unofficial visit. UF hopes he continues to grow and projects that he will resemble David Lee by the time he gets to college.
Florida now has basketball pledges in each of the next three recruiting cycles. Four-stars guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) and point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) are committed for 2014, while three-star power forward Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, FL) has decided to join the team in 2015.
Huge congratulations to 2016 NTF Forward Johnny Mooney @jmoon32 on his commitment to Billy Donovan & the Florida Gators! NTFamily!
For the second-straight offseason, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan will not be with his team when it begins summer training activities on campus in Gainesville, FL. Instead, Donovan will once again be coaching USA Basketball as it competes this year at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.
While he obviously holds his job at Florida as priority No. 1, Donovan and has said multiple times that he is only working with USA Basketball because it is a manageable situation for him as his experienced coaching staff is capable of leading the program in his absence during a portion of the Summer B semester.
Filling in for Donovan during his scheduled Monday media appearance on the annual summertime Southeastern Conference teleconference was third-year assistant Matt McCall, who said the Gators are getting down to business while Donovan is overseas.
“Obviously this is an exciting time when you’re able to get some of your new guys on campus and have your old guys back and start working with them here,” McCall said. “[It will be nice to] get them in the weight room with our strength coach and start preparing for next year.”
“We came down to Gainesville together last week for a visit and he loved it,” Hayes’s high school coach and University of Florida alumnus, Jeremy Ulmer, told InsidetheGators.com‘s Russ Wood ($). “Florida was his dream school and he told me he was ready. I called Billy Donovan and told him that Kevarrius had something to tell him, then I handed him the phone.”
Hayes, who recently participated in the Nike Elite 100 basketball camp from June 3-9 in St. Louis, MO, was named Suwannee High School’s Defensive Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season. He has drawn comparisons to current Gators PF Will Yeguete for his strong defense and ability to clean up offensively around the basket.
Like Yeguete did as a high schooler, Hayes plays travel-league basketball for head coach Tom Topping and Nike Team Florida. Hayes joins Yeguete, Walter Hodge, Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons, Scottie Wilbekin and DeVon Walker as recent or current Gators that previously played under Topping.
During his sophomore season at Suwannee, Hayes averaged 11.3 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks per game. Rivals lists him as a three-star prospect (the company’s 2015 rankings have not yet been released), while ESPN currently has him ranked him as a four-star and the No. 58 overall player in the Class of 2015.
Hayes (6-foot-9, 190-pounds) also had early interest from Alabama, Kansas State and Miami. Florida assistant coach Matt McCall, his primary recruiter, helped reel him in.
According to the Suwannee Democrat, he boasts a 3.0 grade point average, served as president of his sophomore class last school year and hopes to attend medical school so he can become a surgeon. He is also a member of the track and field team and currently holds the school record in the high jump.
“Kevarrius has everything it takes to be a major [Division I] player. He has athletic and academic ability, a positive attitude and a great work ethic,” Ulmer told the Democrat on June 12. “He is everything a coach could ask for in a player.”
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