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Recruiting against Kentucky was wearing Billy Donovan down

According to Ian O’Connor of, one of the reasons Billy Donovan accepted the Oklahoma City Thunder job is because he is tired of recruiting against John Calipari in the SEC.

Billy Donovan told a friend he consulted with this week that a losing SEC recruiting struggle with Kentucky was wearing on him,” O’Connor reports.

Donovan’s new deal, far away from Cal’s dominance, is for five years. He released this statement today:

“I am honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation,” said Billy Donovan, Thunder Head Coach. “The Thunder represents so many of the values that I embrace as a head coach; the commitment to the team above oneself, the dedicated pursuit of excellence, the commitment to organizational culture, the identity they have established and the fact that the Thunder and the community are so intricately woven into the fabric of one another. To have the ability to work with such a talented and high character group of players is also rare, and I am excited to forge ahead creating those relationships. It is of course bittersweet as the University of Florida will always hold a very special place in my heart and in my family’s. I’ve had the good fortune of working with the best athletic director in the country in Jeremy Foley over the last 19 years, and I’ll be forever grateful and thankful for the opportunity and his friendship. Countless players, students, and other people in the administration were responsible for our success and for the meaningful connection we had with the Gainesville community. I have a deep appreciation for what the University of Florida will always mean to me and I’ll forever be a Gator.”

Now who’s next?

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

17 Comments for Recruiting against Kentucky was wearing Billy Donovan down

  1. UK Big Board Update
    4:30 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    I’d like to see Florida hire Little Ricky P. That way we can stomp his ass just like we do his daddy.

    • Laker Cat 18
      4:45 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      I laughed at this. Not going to lie. Terrible hire, but would be hilarious.

  2. nybrasky
    4:32 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    But he “beat” Cal for Chris Walker.

    So he had that going for him, which was nice.

  3. RealCatsFan
    4:33 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    Wonder if Pelphrey will remain as an assistant. Maybe Cal should consider bringing him on as an assistant at UK. Might be good to have some help with recruiting.

    I kind of hate to see Donovan leaving Florida. The SEC was just starting to make some strides with some good coaching hires and some good recruits. I would have much rather seen OKC take Ollie from UConn. Cannot stand UConn, and would prefer to see them tank instead of UF.

    • itsUKnotUofK
      4:43 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      Sean Woods, Sheppard and Derek Anderson probably have killed any Pitino players chances of becoming assistants here

  4. Chuck Norris
    4:35 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    So I’m guessing Anthony Grant will make the move from assistant to head coach in record time?

    • Laker Cat 18
      4:49 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      I don’t get why everyone is still on the Grant bandwagon. He tanked at Alabama. What makes everyone think Florida will be any better for him? This isn’t VCU. You all are crazy if you think Jeremy Foley will take Alabama’s leftovers in basketball.

    • Chuck Norris
      5:24 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      You’re crazy if you think Foley is going to try and get a high profile coach for a basketball program that couldn’t even pack their arena (unless they were playing UK) after winning back-to-back titles. Mark Gottfried was fired from Alabama too, and he’s done pretty well with NC State since he left.

  5. Catsby80
    4:38 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    Billy will coach OKC for 4 years and come to Kentucky when Cal retires. The timing of this is looking pretty spot on.

    • J-Dub421
      4:48 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      Several years ago I would have wanted Donovan. I don’t think I do now. I don’t think that Donovan would have the stones to follow after Coach Cal anyway.

    • Laker Cat 18
      4:51 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      I agree. I believe Billy D is past his prime in the college game. I’d look for Sean Miller after Cal. After Miller, it’s a toss-up. I’m interested to see how Shaka does at Texas. That will be telling to see if he is in that category after his a few years there.

    • J-Dub421
      4:54 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      I don’t know who I would want after Cal. I try not to think about it, even though I know he won’t coach forever. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it I guess.

    • Laker Cat 18
      5:06 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      I’m the same way. You won’t win them all with any one guy, but you always have a shot with Cal. He’ll be impossible to replace when the time comes. Among active coaches, I’d put him in the top 2 with Coach K. #3 is not even close to those two guys.

  6. Ky_Tom
    7:36 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    Can not believe no one has even thought about Cal’s best recruiter, taking his place when he does leave.. That would be Coach Orlando Antigua,.. He was the main man in Cal landing many of those players.. I would much rather see Him return to UK that a someone like Miller, or Woods, or Donavon…
    Right Antiqua is getting a head coaching job under his belt at South Florida…I think in the next couple years, after his recruits start take over that team,, ,I think We will see South Florida make lots of improvements over the next 2 or 3 seasons………I hope Florida doesn’t go after him…..

    • satcheluk
      11:34 am May 1, 2015 Permalink

      Coach O isn’t going anywhere until he proves he can do it on his own.

  7. Leuther
    7:53 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

    Billy has 2 championships, Cal has 1…

    • UK Big Board Update
      8:34 pm April 30, 2015 Permalink

      What does that have to do with anything in this post?