It’s has been rumored for years that Florida men’s head basketball coach Billy Donovan would make the jump from the NCAA to the NBA. Well, that day could soon be approaching. The Oklahoma City Thunder fired head coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday and the Thunder have taken public interests in a few candidates in the college realm, including Donovan.
Donovan has flirted with the NBA before, most recently with the Orlando Magic in 2007 after winning back to back NCAA championships with the Gators.
Gator Nation will hate to see its beloved coach depart for the same reason the rest of the SEC will celebrate the day. Since taking the job at Florida in 1996, Donovan has won two national titles (2006, 2007), been to four Final Fours (2000, 2006, 2007, 2014) and won the SEC tournament four times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2014). Donovan took a traditional football school in Florida and made it a destination for high school basketball recruits across the country.
If Donovan makes the move to the pros, the rest of the conference will go back to old days of just trying to figure out how to beat Kentucky.
With Kentucky dominating the east and the rest of the SEC and Florida having come off a down year, the time might just be right for Donovan to leave. And what better team would Donovan want to make his NBA coaching debut than the Thunder? The Thunder missed the playoffs for the first time in six years this season, but are still loaded with talent. Donovan would have the current reigning MVP in Kevin Durant, current MVP finalist Russell Westbrook, and defensive all-star Serge Ibaka to tinker with.
Donovan also has had a long-standing relationship with Thunder general manager Sam Presti, which also significantly factors into the equation.
Sometimes, however, friends don’t make the best business partners, so there has been another collegiate name mentioned as a potential candidate. University of Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie entered the NBA as an undrafted free agent in 1995 and went on to have a 15-year pro career eventually retiring in 2010 as … you guessed it … a Thunder.