Florida Gator Basketball Hires Rick Pitino's Son

Princess CooperCorrespondent IApril 21, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - MARCH 09:  Billy Donovan, the Head Coach of the Florida Gators, gives instructions to his team during their SEC game against the Kentucky Wildcats on March 9, 2007 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It was announced that Richard Pitino, son of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, will join the staff of the Florida Gators men's basketball program. This is good news for the Gator program, or at least some positive news for a program trying to regain its recent successes.

On the surface, this seems like a good hire and a natural fit. With Rick Pitino being the mentor of current Gator head coach Billy Donovan, it looks like young Pitino needed to move on from his dad's program to start a coaching identity of his own.

Richard Pitino is 26 years old and truly coming into Gainsville with very little coaching experience.

He has been a part of his dad's program for the last two years. Prior to that, Pitino spent two years on Ron Everhart’s staffs at Northeastern (2005-06) and Duquesne (2006-07).

He spent the 2004-05 season as an administrative assistant under Tom Herrion at the College of Charleston.

I am sure that Richard Pitino understands Billy Donovan's system, and will probably fit right in, as both Donovan and Pitino got their basketball knowledge through the elder Pitino during his stint with the Providence Friars.

Donovan was even an assistant under Rick Pitino at Kentcuky, so again, I think this is a good marriage for both.

But, how does he help us on the recruiting front? That seems to be our area that needs improvement.

I am hoping that Pitino comes with the resume of tenacious recruiting. We seem to either be recruiting the wrong players or or not developing a strong enough relationship with them to build some loyalty...if there is such a thing as loyalty from an 18-year-old.

At this point, the Gator program is down four scholarship players if Nick Calathes keeps his name in the draft. Meanwhile, Allen Chaney and Alex Tyus asked for transfers, and recruit Deshawn Painter asked to be let out of his letter of intent.

The program has taken a serious jolt and seems in disarray and a far cry from the championship years of just two years ago. Maybe this coaching addition can be somewhat of a positive distraction and eventually add some star power to the program.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with Coach Donovan at Florida" said Richard Pitino. "I've known him my whole life, and feel like he's a part of our family. Moving on will give me an opportunity to be a part of another one of the nation's top programs and I'm thrilled to work with one of the best coaches in the nation as well.

"I'm proud of what we accomplished and thoroughly enjoyed my time during my two years at Louisville while working for my father. Now, I'm dedicated to continue to build on what has already been accomplished with the Gators."

This is a move that has been swirling around college basketball news for a couple of weeks, and something that has been talked about in Gator Nation recently as well.

At first, the move didn't seem plausible, but when the news broke of Rick Pitino being the target of possible extortion, maybe this move took on an air of protection.

So, I can see where Pitino Sr. would think it was time to get his son out of his program and let him flourish somewhere else. I can also see how this makes sense to Billy Donovan. This is one of those moves that he probably feels, if there is anyone he trusts around his program, it would be the son of his mentor.

"Richard and I have been talking this possibility over for the last two weeks," said Rick Pitino. "Billy is like a son to me, and there's no other person in the country that I would rather have Richard work with than him."

"We both agree that this a unique opportunity for Richard to develop his own identity while helping Billy build his program back to national prominence. Richard has done an unbelievable job in his recruiting efforts. I'm so proud of what he has accomplished over the last two years at Louisville. I'm excited and very happy for him to have this opportunity to continue to grow as a basketball coach under one of the best coaches in the game.”

Welcome to Gator Nation, Richard Pitino.