Donovan Says He'll Stay at Florida; Who's Next at Kentucky? Calipari, Knight, Barnes? | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / July 2.
  • Donovan Says He'll Stay at Florida; Who's Next at Kentucky? Calipari, Knight, Barnes?

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    Billy Donovan denied reports that he will take the newly vacated Kentucky job and said he plans to remain at Florida.

    “In response to the rumors circulating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible. I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here,” Donovan said in a statement.

    Fox 35 Sports in Orlando reported that Donovan, who played at Providence under Rick Pitino, had agreed to take the Kentucky job, which became available Friday when Billy Gillispie was fired.

    At the press conference, Kentucky said no successor had yet been hired.

    “There’s no successor in place,” Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart said.

    Donovan led the Gators to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006 and ’07. After the second crown, Donovan agreed to become the head coach of the Orlando Magic, but changed his mind a few days later and returned to Gainesville.

    The Gators have not made the NCAA tournament in either of the past two seasons.

    Kentucky could now widen its search to include Memphis coach John Calipari, Texas’ Rick Barnes, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford, Villanova’s Jay Wright, VCU’s Anthony Grant and others.

    Under his new contract, Calipari makes $3.35 million per year, according to Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. And that doesn’t even include Calipari’s benefits from the mega-deal Memphis signed with Nike.

    Andy Katz raises the interesting possibility that if Calipari were to take the job, he could bring 6-10 big man DeMarcus Cousins and point guard John Wall with him. Cousins committed to Memphis but has yet to sign his Letter of Intent. He is part of a monster recruiting class that includes Xavier Henry, Darnell Dodson and Will Coleman. Wall, the top recruit in the Class of 2009 according to Rivals, lists Memphis, Duke, Baylor and N.C. State among his favorites.

    Dick Vitale brought up the possibility of Bob Knight coaching at Kentucky, which actually isn’t that crazy. It’s hard to imagine Knight, the winningest coach ever, lasting for an extended period on any job, but he hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching.

    Barnes and Wright both have high-paying, high-profile jobs and Wright, whose team meets Pitt Saturday in the East Regional final in Boston, told me today he was happy at Villanova.

    “I am so happy at Villanova,” Wright said Friday. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. When someone mentions your name, you’re flattered. But I don’t want my name mentioned anywhere. I love Villanova. I’ve got a great athletic director, great president. As long as those guys are there, I’m good.”

    Ford could be a fallback/safety option for Kentucky, Katz said.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.