Brockway: Billy Donovan would rather stay in the NBA
Published on Tuesday, 5/14/19, at 8:26 a.m. Eastern.
After Michigan’s John Beilein left to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday, speculation in the college basketball world immediately shifted to where the Wolverines would look to find the 66-year-old’s replacement.
Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was a name that scribes quickly put at the top of Michigan AD Warde Manuel’s wish list.
Donovan has one year remaining on his contract with the Thunder. There’s no guarantee that he or General Manager Sam Presti will be retained. If they are, both men go into next season on the hot seat.
Donovan’s name was one of the top trends on Twitter most of Monday. But Big Ten reporter Kevin Brockway of CNHI Sports Indiana shot down the notion that Donovan has a likely future in Ann Arbor.
Brockway was the Florida men’s basketball beat writer for the Gainesville Sun during most of Donovan’s storied tenure at UF. Responding to some back and forth on Twitter between Neil Blackmon, the co-host of The Florida Basketball Hour podcast, and I, Brockway tweeted:
My sources tell me that Billy D does not want to go back to college if he doesn’t have to. Enjoys the fact that the NBA is “all basketball.” No recruiting or dealing with other alumni functions.
— KevinBrockwayCNHIIndiana (@KevinBrockwayG1) May 13, 2019
Other names mentioned Monday as potential candidates for the Michigan gig included Northwestern’s Chris Collins, Alabama’s Nate Oats, Butler’s LaVall Jordan, Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, Loyola-Chicago’s Porter Moser and Florida’s Mike White.
UF’s White?! Sure, lots of names pop up when national writers are making lists of candidates that include up to 10 names. But White?
I don’t think there’s anything (at all!) to this, but we’ll nonetheless point out that ESPN’s Jeff Borzello even described White as “attainable” for the Wolverines.
Hurley and Moser both turned down overtures from St. John’s a few weeks ago before the Red Storm hired Mike Anderson. Another name that’s popped up is Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard, who played for the Wolverines in the early 1990 as a part of the famed Fab Five. However, Howard has never been a head coach and hasn’t been a part of the recruiting game since he was a player being courted. (No, we’ll refrain from going into the recruitment of the Fab Five at the moment.)
Jordan played at Butler, so he’s the head coach at his alma mater. Nevertheless, Michigan is the better gig and he was on Beilein’s staff in Ann Arbor from 2010-16. Another note on Jordan: He’s the Butler player that missed two free throws that preceded Mike Miller’s buzzer-beating bucket for the Gators in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament. UF went on the finish as the runner-up, losing to Michigan State in the finals.
I’ll throw out one more name that hasn’t been given much run nationally in the last 24 hours: former Indiana point guard and current Michigan State assistant Dane Fife. Dane’s father, Dan, was captain of Michigan’s 1971 team and was briefly a candidate to replace Steve Fisher when he was fired. Dane’s brother, Dugan, played for the Wolverines during the Fab Five Era. Dane has been on Izzo’s staff for eight years. He helped lead the Hoosiers to the 2002 NCAA Tournament finals and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Manuel got the news Wednesday morning. When asked if he was surprised, he told the Detroit News, “Yeah, I mean actually I was. John obviously is a great coach but even a better person. So I was surprised that he was leaving, and I wish him well, but it did hit me by surprise.”
Beilein did have conversations with the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic last offseason, so he certainly shouldn’t have been shocked.
Manuel, a Michigan alum who became AD in 2016, has made a college-basketball hire before. During his tenure as AD at UConn, Manuel hired Kevin Ollie to replace Jim Calhoun when he announced his retirement. Ollie won a national title for the Huskies in 2014, but things soon went South and he was eventually fired and replaced by Danny Hurley.
Here’s more from Manuel to the Detroit News: “The timeline is I want to get it right. While I’d like it to be done ASAP I’m also gonna take the time to make sure that we find the right person to step in and continue and drive the success that we’ve had.”
Since I’m linking to some of my work over at MajorWager, here’s another piece I did during the college basketball corruption trial. Just me, or isn’t it absolutely amazing how Duke and Coach K continue to slither in and out of the news (mostly out!) as it pertains to the players they’ve recruited in recent years? Some of those names came up in this column I wrote last month.
Also, be sure to follow our MajorWager Twitter account: @majorwagerUNO