GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Billy Donovan is returning to Florida for good.
The Gators are naming their basketball court after Donovan, who led them to back-to-back national championships, four Final Four appearances and six Southeastern Conference titles during his 19 years in Gainesville.
“Billy Donovan Court” will be formally introduced Feb. 15 during Florida's game against Vanderbilt. Donovan will be in attendance since it takes place during the NBA’s All-Star break.
“I was totally shocked,” Donovan said. “It was really emotional. I didn’t anticipate this. I’m thankful, I’m honored and just incredibly humbled by it all.”
Donovan made basketball matter at Florida, leading the Gators to a 467-185 record before leaving to take over the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015.
Former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley hired Donovan in 1996, and current AD Scott Stricklin said naming the court after Donovan was "just an obvious way to honor him.”
“What Billy accomplished here no one ever could have anticipated,” Foley said. “There’s probably a whole generation that thinks Florida basketball has always been on the map. Is that true? The answer to that question is ‘no.’ Pockets of success, yes. But then he came in here and built a program that is recognized as a national brand."