Donovan's son set for O-Dome debut

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan talks with the referee against the BYU Cougars in the second half of their NCAA tournament regional semifinal game at the New Orleans Arena on Thursday, March 24, 2011. The Gators defeated BYU 84-73 in overtime to advance to the elite eight.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 11:21 p.m.

Sophomore Catholic University guard Billy Donovan is heading into tonight's exhibition matchup with Florida with mixed emotions.

"My dad and I are really excited," the younger Donovan said. "It's special, but it's really about both teams getting ready for the season."

Catholic University coach Steve Howes called Florida coach Billy Donovan and approached him about scheduling the matchup last spring. Donovan checked with his son, who said it was OK.

"It will be fun," Donovan said. "Besides the game, I'm proud of him. He's happy where he is at. I think he's having a great experience."

The younger Donovan said he chose to play at Catholic, a Division III school based in Washington, D.C., because he wanted to experience college in a bigger city. A former St. Francis High standout and Gainesville Sun all-area player, Donovan had lived in Gainesville since he was four years old. He is the oldest of Billy and his wife Christine Donovan's four children.

The younger Donovan said he had no interest in walking on at Florida or playing for his dad. Education played a strong role in his decision. Donovan is majoring in political science.

"We have a strong tradition of Catholic education in our family," he said. "My dad and mom went to Catholic school in high school and in college."

The younger Donovan averaged 1.4 points per game last season, but the 6-foot-2 shooting guard said he expects to have more responsibility as a sophomore. He's not listed in the starting lineup for Catholic.

"I know the ropes," he said. "I have experience, so I feel a lot more confident."

In basketball, the younger Donovan said his father was a strong influence on an off the court. "He definitely helped me a lot growing up," he said. "After games, he doesn't really take work home with him. He's a great father. Even though we're playing against each other, he really wants to see me do well."

Perhaps the most conflicted fan in the arena will be Christine Donovan, who said she will be rooting for Florida to win and her son to do well.

"It's hard for her," the elder Donovan said. "I mean, it's her son. She wants it to go well and she just wants it to be a good experience for him."

After basketball, the younger Donovan said he plans to go to graduate school and pursue a career in government services. He has no desire to coach.

"Coaching," he said, "is out of the question."

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