McCall going dancing


Former Florida assistant coach Matt McCall will be gaining more national visibility in the coming weeks.

McCall capped off an impressive first season at Tennessee-Chattanooga by leading the Mocs to the Southern Conference Tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

McCall began as a student manager under Billy Donovan before working as a graduate assistant and later, as a full-time assistant coach for the Gators from 2011-15. He took the Tennessse-Chattanooga job two weeks before Donovan left the Gators for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

McCall saluted Donovan shortly after the NCAA Tournament clinching win.

“I learned from the best. I really did. I’ve been blessed to be with some great coaches, none better than Coach Donovan,” McCall told ESPN. “I’m so happy for these players. They’ve been through a lot. I’m the third head coach for some of these guys. They deserve it.”

McCall inherited a strong team from former coach Will Wade, who left UTC for VCU. But the 34-year-old Ocala native has led UTC to a school-record 29 wins, including wins over Georgia, Illinois and Dayton. He’s also dealt with some adversity, as returning leading scorer and leading scorer Casey Jones (6-5 g) has been out for most of the year with an ankle injury. As a result, McCall earned Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors.

McCall’s staff also includes a pair of former Gators, walk-on Jacob Kurtz (video coordinator) and Eddie Shannon (director of basketball operations).

Other notes:

— Florida suffered another disappointing blow in recruiting when 6-7 swingman Kodye Pugh, a top 100 prospect in the Class of 2017, committed to Stanford over the Gators on Wednesday. Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Md., had visited the UF campus in January and was thought to be leaning toward the Gators. With Pugh off the board, Florida is expected to turn its attention to David Nickelberry, a 6-7 Class of 2017 prospect from outside Orlando.