Florida basketball court to be named after coach Billy Donovan in early 2020

By Adam Silverstein
December 6, 2019
Florida basketball court to be named after coach Billy Donovan in early 2020
Basketball

Five years after leaving the Florida Gators, former head basketball coach Billy Donovan will be honored when the court of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is named after him in early 2020. Donovan, who led Florida to its first national title and back-to-back championships in 2006-07, is currently coaching the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I was totally shocked,” recalled Donovan of when he learned about the court naming. “It was really emotional. I mean, I didn’t anticipate this. I’ve been gone five years, so I couldn’t believe those guys flew all the way out here for that. I’m thankful, I’m honored and just incredibly humbled by it all.” 

Athletic director Scott Stricklin and AD emeritus Jeremy Foley flew to Oklahoma in October under the guise of touring college facilities, according to a Florida release. Instead, they actually made the trip to surprise Donovan with the acknowledgement.

“Billy Donovan Court” will formally be named the evening of Feb. 15 ahead of a Florida basketball game against Vanderbilt.  Donovan will be in attendance at the O’Dome as the event was scheduled at the same time as NBA All-Star weekend.

Naming the court after Donovan has been a long time coming for the Gators, and it’s something that had been asked about extensively by media and fans even while he was still coaching the program.

Donovan won 71.5 percent of his games over 19 seasons at Florida, capturing two national titles (2006-07), leading the program to four Final Fours (2000, 2006-07, 2014), winning four SEC Tournaments (2005-07, 2014) and taking six SEC regular-season titles (200-01, 2007, 2011, 2013-14). The Gators advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 13 of his final 16 seasons.

Though he somehow never won a national coach of the year award — strictly by happenstance — Donovan was a three-time SEC Coach of the Year (2011, 2013-14) who is a no-doubt hall of famer sooner than later.

“What Billy accomplished here no one ever could have anticipated,” Foley said in a statement. “There’s probably a whole generation that thinks Florida basketball has always been on the map. Is that true? The answer to that question is ‘no.’ Pockets of success, yes, but then he came here and built a program that is recognized as a national brand. He did it with an outstanding group of assistant coaches and an incredible support staff, but at the end of the day, Billy Donovan created something very special here.”

One Comment

  1. Tom Hurst says:

    As it should be!

    Congrats and endless gratitude to Coach Donovan.

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