Billy Donovan era ends after 19 years in Florida

Two time NCAA champion coach signs multi-year deal to take over for Scott Brooks as coach of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder

The rumblings were getting louder by the year.

The first misstep was in 2007 after accepting the head coaching position for the Orlando Magic, he backed out less than 24 hours before the official press conference even took place.

There were also a bunch of other teams that were then light years away from being in the NBA playoffs.

Last year, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers who called weeks before LeBron James did The Decision, Part II.

Today, this was an offer that 49 year old Billy Donovan simply could not pass up–a chance to coach some of the NBA’s current crop of great All-Star players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

The main point I am trying to make is…

After seeing him initially as a scrappy guard playing for Rick Pitino on the cinderella Providence Friars team that reached the Final Four in 1987, the accomplishments of Donovan with the Florida Gators are definitely legendary.  As a coach, he was one of the best in preparing his players–and with the way the Gators “chomped” their way to two consecutive titles in the last decade, his style of play should make quite a splash in OKC.

His overall record at Florida was a very impressive 467-186 (.715 winning percentage).

If not, I am sure loyal Thunder fan in Yahoo News’ Shibani Joshi will tell you more.

Consider this resume during his 19 years while in Gainesville:

  • Winner of six SEC regular season titles
  • Winner of four SEC post-season titles
  • Reached Final Four four times (2000, 2006, 2007, and 2014)
  • Reached Elite Eight seven times
  • Reached the NCAA Tournament 14 times, including nine straight years from 1999 through 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014
  • Joined John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski as the only coaches to win back-to-back national championships (2006 and 2007)
  • Coached several players still in the NBA, among the most recognizable names are Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Brad Beal, Corey Brewer and Chandler Parsons.

The initial rumors on who might take over include Archie Miller of Dayton, Chris Mack from Xavier and one-time Florida assistant and Rick Pitino’s son, Richard Pitino, currently the head coach at Minnesota.

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