Billy D: “Buying in” translates to Gator NBA success


Why is Florida coach Billy Donovan highly thought of in NBA circles?

To begin, look at the number of players he’s produced at the next level. The list includes 12 current NBA players. Three (Joakim Noah, Al Horford and David Lee) are All-Stars.

I asked Donovan on Thursday about his ability to develop players for success at the next level.

“There’s certain guys, that when they come in, you know, regardless of where they go, they’re going to be a first-round draft pick, they’re going to be a lottery pick,” Donovan said. “They’re just that good. It doesn’t make a difference.”

But Donovan said with other former players, such as second round pick turned Houston Rockets standout Chandler Parsons, it came through learning the intangibles that go into winning basketball games.

“It’s been two things: 1. The amount of time we’ve spent with them. But also their basketball IQ, their intelligence and their work ethic,” Donovan said. “Chandler got an opportunity and he took advantage of it right away. (Joakim) Noah got an opportunity and took advantage of it. (Al) Horford took advantage of it. (Corey) Brewer.

“These guys, the thing that I’m most proud about is not the fact that they got to the NBA, it’s that these guys are staying in the NBA. These guys are having long careers and they’re playing more than 10 years, and there’s something to be said for that.

“The environment here in terms of getting of getting them bought in … Chandler was never bought in and would have never played in the NBA. When he finally got bought in, what happened is that buy in, in terms of understanding what goes into winning and playing and how to play the game, now when you get to the next level, those things are no different than what we’re looking for and what we’re doing, and they’re able to go out there and be a lot more successful.”

Since becoming Gators coach in 1996, Donovan has had 20 former players appear in at least one NBA game. Here’s the list:

— Jason Williams (Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, L.A. Clippers)

— Mike Miller (Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves)

— Donnell Harvey (Dallas Mavericks)

— Matt Bonner (Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs)

— Orien Greene (Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings)*

— Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat)

— James White (New York Knicks) #

— Matt Walsh (Miami Heat)

— Anthony Roberson (New York Knicks)

— David Lee (New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors)

— Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)

— Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)

— Corey Brewer (Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets)

— Taurean Green (Portland Trail Blazers)

— Marreese Speights (Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors)

— Nick Calathes (Memphis Grizzlies)

— Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets)

— Vernon Macklin (Detroit Pistons)

— Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)

— Erik Murphy (Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz)

* Greene transferred and finished his career at Louisiana-Lafayette

# White transferred and finished his career at Cincinnati