You don’t want to accept that it happened, but it did. Billy Donovan, as expected, is taking the head coaching vacancy for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and now the Florida Gators are tasked with replacing one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history. Who is next to take the reins of a powerhouse program?
A lot of candidates will emerge over the next few days, and I’m going to rank the best ones. One name to keep a tab on is Dayton’s Archie Miller. The younger brother of Arizona’s Sean Miller, Archie has had his fair share of college basketball success, taking a small program deep into the tournament. Everyone wants to know if Miller is capable of taking over a big-name program. There’s no better time to start cementing his legacy than now.
Staying with the theme of family members of famous basketball coaches brings us to our next candidate: Minnesota’s Richard Pitino. The son of Louisville coach and Billy’s coach at Providence, Rick Pitino, Richard has taken Minnesota from shambles to being a contender in the always competitive Big Ten. Donovan knows the Pitino family very well and I am sure he has plenty of nice things to say about Richard, which will help his cause during the search process.
Another name to think about is Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg. “The Mayor” has done huge things for the Cyclones. While Iowa State is a great program, it’s not on the same level as Florida. Maybe Hoiberg wants something bigger, and we can offer it.
Perhaps a Florida assistant should take the helm. Anthony Grant was re-hired as a Gator assistant last month after being let go from his coaching duties at Alabama. Very few people know the SEC as well as Grant, which gives him a huge advantage as a candidate.
Lastly, why not consider the coach who Billy is replacing? That’s right, I’m talking about Scott Brooks. Brooks was successful with the Thunder. There’s a big difference between coaching in the pros and coaching college. There’s no such thing as recruiting in the NBA. If Brooks shows he is capable of recruiting, then I am more than willing to give him a shot.
If I were to rank them, it’d be:
1. Archie Miller
2. Fred Hoiberg
3. Anthony Grant
4. Richard Pitino
5. Scott Brooks
Of course, there are many candidates than the ones mentioned here. I have no clue who will be taking command. All I hope is that the Gators can have a fair amount of success with the new coach.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten