Prior Florida Basketball coach Billy Donovan on wish lists after John Calipari leaves

Donovan is the current coach for the Chicago Bulls, but is on numerous watch lists to take the Kentucky job
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

When Billy Donovan left Florida Basketball following the 2015 season, he did so to chase an NBA dream with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Nine seasons later in the NBA, Donovan, now with the Chicago Bulls, has had mild success but has failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs since his inaugural season in the league.

Now that John Calipari has stunned the college basketball world and moved on from Kentucky to Arkansas, the old Gator coach is emerging on plenty of watch lists as a candidate to take over Big Blue.

Florida Basketball: What's Old Is New

As your quick reminder of what Donovan meant for the Gators, he took over the program in 1996 and proceeded to take the program to seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours, and two national titles during his time in Gainesville.

The Gators had never been a relevant and consistent presence in men's basketball prior to Donovan arriving and have only advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament once since his departure.

In fact, Donovan made the national title game on three occasions (2000, 2006, 2007). All other Florida coaches combined have made at least the Sweet 16 three times (1987, 1994, 2017).

So there is merit to why Kentucky fans would look at Donovan and say, "Come back to the SEC and save us."

Look up any watch list right now and Donovan's name is among the prime candidates that national pundits and Big Blue Nation alike want to see the Wildcats go after.

But there would be lingering questions Donovan himself would need to address before giving up his NBA pursuits to come back to college.

Would he want to fool with the world of NIL? Would he want to deal with the scrutiny that would come in Lexington, which would surpass anything he experienced in Gainesville or the NBA? Would he want to potentially have to lead Kentucky into Gainesville and play on a court with his name on it as the visiting team? Would he believe it's not butter?

We might have made that last one up.

But the point is that the college basketball landscape Donovan left behind is not the college basketball landscape that exists today and Donovan has been in the NBA long enough that even if his time with the Bulls doesn't work out he would be able to find work somewhere else in the league.

Only time will tell if the allure of a college homecoming proves stronger than the established comfort of the professional game.