Thursday, June 7, 2007

June 7 News and Notes

It’s official: Billy Donovan is headed back to Florida. Donovan had originally signed a 5-year, $27.5 million contract with the Orlando Magic, but wanted out of the deal shortly after signing it. "I realized that, in my heart, I belonged in college basketball," Donovan. "As soon as I realized that, I contacted the Magic immediately to let them know." Donovan signed the deal last Friday, but regretted it immediately. "Although this has been a difficult time for everyone, for which I am profoundly sorry, in my heart I know that this is the right thing for the Magic and for me," Donovan said. "It's my admiration for the whole Magic organization that led me to this course of action. I believe that the Magic has a great future ahead of them, and I wish them all the best." The Magic said that it would not have made sense if they kept Donovan to his contract. "We have the legal right to hold Billy to the contract he signed, but with him having a change of heart about leaving college basketball, we want him at the University of Florida," the Magic said. "We have granted him permission to break his commitment and return to the Gators." Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was excited about the news. "It's great news for the Gators,” he said. Donovan was set to sign a seven-year contract worth $3.5 annually, while former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy reportedly accepted the Magic job. Details of his release were not made public, although it was earlier reported that the NBA wanted one of the terms of the release to be that Donovan could not coach in the NBA for 5 years.

According to the Cincinnati Post, UK head coach Billy Gillispie spoke with Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner in Lexington last week. The Wildcats have an open assistant coach position, and Pastner is recognized as one of the best recruiters in the country. He has not been offered anything yet, though. "I work for Lute Olson and the University of Arizona," Pastner said over the phone. "There has been no hiring of me at Kentucky and no offer." He does have a long relationship with Gillespie from basketball and their roots in Texas. "Coach Gillispie is a tremendous human being and an unbelievable coach and the University of Kentucky is very fortunate and lucky that they have him there," Pastner said.

According to the
Montana Standard, Eastern Washington guard Michael Taylor has announced that he will transfer to Montana. Taylor started 25 games for EWU last season, averaging 5.7 points and 1.9 assists per game. “I just didn’t like how it was this year,” he said of EWU. “I don’t want to go into too much detail. I was just looking for something different.” Taylor liked the overall basketball program at Montana, especially head coach Wayne Tinkle. “I really liked him,” Taylor said. “When I went to Missoula this year, I liked the assistant coaches, the guys on the team are great and they have a good team chemistry that I’d like to be a part of.”

Tim Povtak of the Orlando Sentinel breaks down the winners and losers of the Billy Donovan saga. According to him, the winners are: Gator fans; Local web sites because of the traffic it has produced; Stan Van Gundy; Orlando Magic bashers; and the University of Florida. The losers are: Billy Donovan; Anthony Grant; the Orlando Magic; college basketball coaches; and Magic fans.

Justin Young of breaks down each conference and its incoming freshmen for 2007-2008. No. 3 is the Big Ten, while the SEC checks in at No. 4. Young writes that the Big Ten has five teams with Top 30 recruiting classes, including three in the top-nine. He also says that Indiana’s Eric Gordon is going to help the Indiana backcourt immediately, and that many Big Ten teams brought in top-notch guard talent. According to him, the top five freshmen next season will be: Indiana’s Eric Gordon, Ohio State’s Kosta Koufos, Michigan State’s Chris Allen, Michigan’s Corperryale Harris, and Purdue’s E’twaun Moore.

As for the
SEC, Young writes that the SEC has four teams with Top 25 recruiting classes, including the top-ranked Florida Gators. He also discusses how Kentucky and Florida’s rivalry could become even more intense with the late-season recruiting battles the two fought, as well as how the new Gators will have to fill very big shoes for the two-time defending national champions. According to Young, the top five freshmen next season will be: LSU’s Anthony Randolph, Florida’s Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons, Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson, and Alabama’s Senario Hillman.

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