I was going to spend tonight waxing poetic about losing Billy Donovan and what it means to the program and the state of Kentucky basketball. But I will leave such hyperbole to the national writers who know nothing. When it comes down to it, Billy Donovan wanted to stay at Florida because that is the program he built. If he comes back next year and doesnt go to the NBA, he will get a lot of money, have a chance to get lots of recruits and the fans still wont care. That is great for him and if that is what he wants, I think there is nothing wrong with that. I do not believe he “strung Kentucky along” because he made a decision less than 72 hours after the national title game….to me that is relatively quick and it has given UK time to go in another direction. We all wanted Donovan….he was almost a unanimous choice….but he isnt coming and we must move on.
The question becomes where do we move on to…..and the late buzz around here is that my favorite of the contenders, Billy Gillispie may be it. The Aggies have granted permission for UK to talk to Billy G, a step that is usually closer to the end of the process than the beginning. I am a huge Billy G fan and he is my favorite of the contenders. I could have been sold at times on Jay Wright, but after talking with people the last two weeks, I have been convinced that Billy G is the guy. He is obsessive, a good old boy and he can flat coach. And he is beginning to recruit…..something that might be seen if he brings STUD recruit DeAndre Jordan with him to Lexington. We may know something soon, but if the hire is Billy G, I will say that Mitch did a great job…..got a HIGH RISING coach that virtually everyone in the national media has pegged as a star and did it quickly after the Donovan hiring. Barnhart gets this done, I give him props.
A couple of quick tidbits….
(1) I am told that Rick Barnes was never offered the job and negotiations were never made between the two parties. Barnes had interest in UK and it was recipricated, but it was not the case that he was the definitive 2nd choice. Rather he was one of four candidates who were being considered. The ranking of those candidates is known to no one but Mitch, but if the Billy G rumors end up being correct, it is clear that Gillispie could not have been too low on the totem pole.
(2) The national media is silly. Donovan staying at Florida has nothing to do with the “status” of the UK program. No other program in America could have even made this a close decision. Taking a guy from a school that just has won two national championships was previously unheard of…..and now it still is. But no other school could pull it off, so UK hasnt slipped by not being able to do so.
(3) Jai Lucas will now likely visit Florida. Billy Donovan has convinced him that there is playing time and now he will look into it. He still says that his top four are the same but the Gators are making a late push. I think UK still has a chance to get Lucas, but the new coach has his work cut out for him.
Scroll down and listen to the Sports Mob Hour today with our conversations with Gregg Doyel and Bomani Jones. The hour will now be available daily and can be subscribed to on ITUNES for daily downloads.
Check in throughout the day (and maybe night tonight) and if we hear news, it will be here…..
Here are some videos to watch that may be important in the future. Behind the Scenes with Texas A&M Basketball