2/3: Donovan talks recruiting, prep for Vanderbilt

By Adam Silverstein
February 3, 2012

Set to play their second of three games in six days, No. 11/12 Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Friday to discuss a number of topics including the Vanderbilt Commodores, basketball recruiting and senior point guard Erving Walker‘s improved play in his final season.


When it comes to Vanderbilt, guard John Jenkins has been a thorn in Florida’s side each of the last three years. Leading the Commodores in minutes (33.2), points (19.9) and free throw shooting (85.7 percent), Jenkins is the consummate shooter and someone Donovan will obviously have the Gators’ defense focused on.

“He’s a great player. The three best guys I’ve seen shoot the ball – and I won’t say Lee Humphrey because I’ve coached him – that we’ve gone against in this league have been Rotnei Clark, Chris Lofton and Jenkins,” he said. “He is one of the best shooters that I’ve seen in this league. A guy that can really knock shots down. Guys that can do it under pressure with a lot of defense on them and people challenge shots are really phenomenal.”

However, Jenkins is not the only player Florida will have to deal with. Forward Jeffrey Taylor is also playing lights out, averaging 17.4 points and 5.8 boards while shooting 53.1 percent from the field and a team-high 46.3 percent from three. And 6’11” center Festus Ezeli, though he’s missed 10 games, is also dangerous in the frontcourt.

“He’s an incredible space eater. He’s a great shot blocker. He has great presence. Where he was as a freshman to where he is now, he’s really made some incredible growth in terms of his offensive game,” Donovan said of Ezeli. “He has developed offensively. He has learned how to seal and post up and create angles.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Climbing his way up a number of all-time lists at Florida, Walker passed 1,200 career points Thursday and is just 15 points away from moving into No. 5 on the school’s scoring list. He is also three assists away from the No. 2 spot in that category, four three-pointers away from No. 3 on the list, 24 minutes away from No. 4 in court time and six trey attempts shy of No. 1 all-time at UF.

“It’s pretty amazing what he’s done at his size, a guy that came off the bench as a freshman and then moved into the starting position as a sophomore. In terms of his assists, three-point shooting, the scoring, it’s amazing a guy his size has been able to score at the level he’s been able to score at,” Donovan said.

“Any time you are able to score over 1,000 points in a career, that’s always a pretty good career offensively. I think he’ll go down as one of the better guards to play here just based on statistics and someone being here for four years.”

Walker has been concentrating on something other than scoring this season – taking care of the ball. His season-long assist/turnover ratio is 2.46, and he is first in the SEC in assists averaging 5.1 per game.

“He tries to do everything I ask him to do. We’ve talked about trying to lead the league in assists, and he’s right up there,” Donovan said. “He’s keeping his turnovers down. He’s starting to see and understand where his shots are coming from, when he needs to shoot and when he needs to pass. He’s getting better at it.”


Donovan was asked if there is a “gentlemen’s agreement” in college basketball when it comes to recruiting. In other words that a coach will not actively recruit a player committed to another school. A common practice in college football, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was accused of doing so by Wisconsin this week. He admitted as such and stated it was an aggressive action but not illegal and that many other schools do it as well. Below are Donovan’s thoughts:

“Yeah. I’ve always been amazed at football. There used to be a basketball coach – I’m not going to say his name – years ago he’s no longer coaching, when I first got in the business and a guy would commit, he would say, ‘Great now it’s down to two – me and you.’ I would say in basketball there is no question a gentlemen’s whatever. I will not recruit anybody who is committed. Never ever ever. That’s kind of a thing that goes on in basketball. And I have the right to recruit, but I think it’s kind of an unwritten or an unspoken law in basketball that once a guy is committed, that’s it.

“I have not done this but I know coaches will do this. If a guy is committed to a school and there is another school trying to change or break that commitment, the school he’s committed to will call up the coach and say, ‘What are you doing? This guy has made a decision. He’s already coming to our school.’ […] I’ve always been amazed in football that a guy is verbally committed somewhere and he’s taking official visits to other places. That makes no sense to me. He shouldn’t commit anywhere if he’s not really sure. It just seems that’s what goes on.

“Al Horford is a perfect example. Al Horford committed to Michigan. I had a person very close to Al in the recruitment who said that he felt like he made a mistake and he would like to come to Florida. I said, ‘I’m not going to recruit him. The only way that I would recruit him is if he calls up the coach at Michigan and tells him that he has decided to open up his recruitment. But I’m not going to talk to you about Florida, and I’m not going to talk to you about anything. It’s got to be his decision.’ Al obviously did that. I’m not going to pick up the phone and talk to a kid that’s already committed somewhere and tell him why he shouldn’t go there and that he’s making a mistake there.

“There’s kids that decommit all the time. Austin Rivers decommited last year and he decided to open up his recruitment. […] I don’t know if other schools were tampering with Austin or not or talking to him. It’s one of those things where I just don’t do that. I would say that most of college basketball coaches don’t do that once a guy is committed. That’s like an across the board consensus.”


» On if he “ripped into the team” following their victory on Thursday: “I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that sometimes you’re better off watching the film. I would say most of the time my assessment just sitting there is accurate but there are times where you look at something and you think something was the problem and it’s not.”

» On the quick turnaround: “There’s no question the stretch that we have coming up is going to be very demanding, very tough playing against a lot of good teams. […] What you have to do is put all of your focus and energy into what is in front of you right now. They’ll eventually all play themselves out.”[/EXPAND]

One Comment

  1. SaraGator says:

    Coach D is a class act! We are so lucky that he spurned Orlando to stay at Florida.

    Go Gators!

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux