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.
NEW YORK –– Florida coach Billy Donovan seems more focused on trying to land stud recruit Brandon Knight than he is on becoming the next coach at St. John’s.
Despite a published report to the contrary, St. John’s AD Chris Monasch has not contacted Jeremy Foley, his counterpart at Florida, for permission to speak with Donovan, a St. John’s spokesman said.
“I am very happy here, and we have a very good team coming back next season,” Donovan told Lenn Robbins of the Post in a text message. “St. John’s has a great tradition, and I have great respect for that program.”
Knicks center David Lee, a former Florida star, also said he thought it was unlikely Donovan would replace Norm Roberts, who was fired late Thursday after six seasons at the Queens school.
“I really don’t [think he would take the job]. I don’t,” Lee said Sunday after the Rockets downed the Knicks, 116-112, in a matchup of former players. “I know he still has a lot of family and friends up here, but I know he loves it down in Florida…I would think he would be in Florida.”
Another source close to Donovan said he “would seriously doubt it,” in reference to Donovan’s interest in the St. John’s job.
Donovan previously turned down coaching opportunities with the Orlando Magic (after initially signing a five-year, $27.5 million contract) and Kentucky.
The Post reported that St. John’s is willing to pay $1.6 million annually for a new coach with a proven track record of NCAA tournament success. Donovan reportedly makes $3.5 million at Florida.
Donovan, who was born and raised in Rockville Centre on Long Island and has a history of success recruiting New York-area players, won the NCAA title in 2006 and ’07. This year the Gators lost in the first round to BYU in double-OT.
If Donovan doesn’t work out, the Johnnies are expected to target Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt and Hofstra coach Tom Pecora. As of Sunday afternoon, both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech were still in the postseason.Donovan desperately needs help in the backcourt at Florida and still retains hope that Knight, the No. 1 prospect in the nation out of Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, will choose the Gators over Kentucky, Kansas, UConn and Syracuse.
“I’ve got to do a better job, you know, providing a little bit more depth to our team,” Donovan told the Miami Herald Thursday. “That’s definitely something we need. We need depth in our backcourt.”
The 6-4 Knight has not given a timetable on when he will announce.
“I look at making this decision as one of the most important decisions I”ll make in my life,” Knight recently said in SLAM magazine. “As a result, I am being very patient so I will make the right decision and go to a place that will best benefit me as a person, student and athlete.”
(Photo courtesy Orlando Sentinel)
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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.