Looking at Billy D’s coaching tree


Florida coach Billy Donovan was asked Thursday how often he calls his former assistant coach and close friend, Alabama coach Anthony Grant.

“I talk to all of those guys, whether it be Larry Shyatt, Rob Lanier, Richard Pitino, Shaka (Smart), Anthony, we talk,” Donovan said. “This part of the season it’s hard because everybody is worried about their team and getting prepared for the next game.”

Donovan has spawned a significant coaching tree in 17 seasons at UF. Of late, he’s been helping Richard Pitino, who is in his first season as a head coach at FIU.

“We don’t speak everyday, but we talk quite often,” Donovan said. “I just think normal first-year head coaching things, asking about things.

“He’s figuring it out as he goes. I mean, he’s well-prepared. He knows, but I think like anything else, when you have some people like his father and myself and some other people he can bounce things off of, I think that’s always healthy for everybody.”

Donovan said he respected how Pitino’s father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, made his son work from the ground floor up before reaching the Division I coaching level. The younger Pitino began his coaching career in high school as a college intern and then worked as a graduate assistant at Providence.

Donovan’s oldest son, Billy, transferred to UF as a walk-on in part because he wants to pursue a career in coaching after college. At Catholic University in Washington, D.C., the younger Donovan had considered a career in Government before changing his mind.

Asked if he would take the same approach to his son that Pitino did, Donovan said: “I’m not necessarily so sure he’d like to coach in college. I think he may like to coach, maybe in high school or something. He’s thought about that, he’s got a lot of different avenues he’s looking at. I think part of the reason of coming back here, the lure of being in D.C. and working on the Hill and doing those things, experiencing it, I think he didn’t really feel like it was for him. But really, whatever he wants to do, I’m going to support him. I can’t say my wife would be too thrilled about him getting into coaching but it’s gonna be up to him.”

Here’s a look at how former Donovan assistants have fared this season:

Shaka Smart, VCU — 22-6

Anthony Grant, Alabama — 19-9

Donnie Jones, UCF — 19-9

Larry Shyatt, Wyoming — 18-10

Richard Pitino, FIU — 16-12

Lewis Preston, Kennesaw State — 3-26

Total  — 97-62