Finally Billy Donovan is getting his due. ESPN has done a countdown of college basketball’s top 50 coaches, and Donovan tops the list. He beat out the likes of Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, and Louisville’s Rick Pitino.
The 2013-14 season may have been Billy D’s best coaching performance yet. He led a team riddled with questions to a fourth straight Elite Eight and a Final Four appearance. You may remember at the beginning of last season, Scottie Wilbekin was suspended, Will Yeguete and Eli Carter (who ended up redshirting) were both injured, Damontre Harris‘ future was still up in the air, and the most talented player on the squad, Chris Walker, was academically ineligible. But Patric Young, Casey Prather, and Dorian Finney-Smith helped build the foundation of a superb coaching job Donovan did. Eventually, Florida did get all those players except for Carter and Harris back to become one of the deepest teams in college basketball. The adversity likely did the Gators well as it provided early playing time for Kasey Hill and Jacob Kurtz. UF went on to go 18-0 in the SEC, winning both the regular season and SEC Tournament titles as well as setting numerous win-streak records along the way.
Eamonn Brennan does an excellent job of writing why Billy Donovan’s college basketball’s top coach, but two sentences could sum up
Disappointing finish or not, 2013-14 was Donovan’s master class…Within a few months, a team that could have been an abject disaster was instead one of Donovan’s best. – Eamonn Brennan
Donovan was determined to be the No. 1 coach by ESPN Forecast, which is “a panel of 45 members that collectively possess vast college basketball experience, knowledge and perspective.” I’m just happy the rest of the world is finally realizing what we’ve known for a long time. Billy Donovan built an obscure Florida basketball program into a consistent powerhouse, annually challenging for the SEC and national Championships. And he’s done it with class. Donovan deserves all the accolades he can get.