Coach Billy Donovan Might Be Interested in the Kentucky Basketball Job

Kentucky will look at Scott Drew and Dan Hurley to replace John Calipari, but if they say no is it worth a wait on Billy Donovan?

Coach Billy Donovan Might Be Interested in the Kentucky Basketball Job

As the weekend ended, it became evident that John Calipari's reign as Kentucky's head coach was nearing its end. On Tuesday, it was confirmed that he had accepted the head coaching position at Arkansas, marking the end of a significant era in Kentucky college basketball.

This development left the prestigious Kentucky coaching job open for the first time in 15 years, sparking speculation about his successor. Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky’s athletics director, had to wait for Calipari's formal resignation before beginning the search. Quickly, attention turned to two prominent names: Scott Drew of Baylor and Dan Hurley from UConn.

Both Drew and Hurley are seen as fitting the demanding environment of UK basketball and are considered strong contenders for the role given their impressive credentials, including national championships.

Rumors suggest that Scott Drew, the basketball coach at Baylor University, is on Kentucky's radar as a replacement for their former coach, John Calipari. A plane linked to a UK Athletics donor was reportedly seen flying from Lexington to Waco and back, and Drew's family was also spotted in Lexington, fueling the speculation.

At the same time, the beloved Dan Hurley, known for steering UConn to back-to-back national championships, has certainly won the hearts of UK fans and key backers. Even though Hurley's dedicated to UConn, there's a feeling out there that Kentucky might just have an offer irresistible enough to lure him in.

As the search continued, another potential candidate emerged: Billy Donovan. National sports commentators have largely dismissed the idea of Donovan, currently coaching the Chicago Bulls, returning to college basketball. However, sources indicate he might be more open to a college comeback, especially at a prestigious program like Kentucky where he previously served as an assistant coach under Rick Pitino.

Chicago Bulls' Billy Donovan does not appear to be a candidate for Kentucky  - A Sea Of Blue
Billy Donovan

The timing, however, is complex. As long as the Bulls are in contention this season, Donovan is unlikely to consider any college offers. He emphasized his dedication to the Bulls during a recent press conference, though he didn’t outright reject the possibility of considering the Kentucky job once the NBA season concludes.

Should Donovan become a serious candidate, Kentucky might face a wait, as the earliest the Bulls' season could end is mid-April. This delay poses challenges for Kentucky, as they risk falling behind in player recruitment and transfer portal activities. Unlike Drew or Hurley, Donovan wouldn’t have existing college players or recruits to bring to Kentucky, necessitating a fresh roster build.

The dilemma for UK is whether to wait for Donovan, who hasn't coached college basketball since 2015 and is unfamiliar with recent changes like the transfer portal and NIL deals. This wait could compromise their readiness for the 2024-25 season.

Despite these challenges, Donovan's past success and deep understanding of Kentucky basketball history make him an appealing choice. He's known for transforming the Florida program, achieving two national championships, and almost joining Kentucky twice before.

As Kentucky moves forward in its coaching search, the decision on whether to pursue Donovan or settle on another candidate remains a significant point of consideration for Barnhart and the UK basketball community.