Did Billy Donovan Anger the Basketball Gods?

Jim FolsomContributorApril 12, 2010

Is God an Orlando Magic fan? Or maybe a Kentucky Wildcats fan?

Because ever since those two were jilted by Billy Donovan, he seems to be having a serious run of bad luck.

Think back to this time three years ago. Billy was on top of the basketball world. He was the winner of back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. He was in high demand. Every open coaching job started with his name on top of the list.

The Orlando Magic won his services. There was fanfare and hoopla. Magic season ticket sales took off like a shot.

Even Gator fans weren't too upset. After all, he was leaving our favorite college team to go to our favorite NBA team. It's almost like Tim Tebow going to the Jaguars. Everybody wins.

Then it happened.

Billy had a change of heart. He called the Magic and the Gators and informed them he had changed his mind and wanted to remain at UF.

At first, everything seemed right with the world. Donovan quickly hauled in the No. 1-rated class in 2007 according to Rivals.com. However, one big fish that got away was Patrick Patterson. Pat admitted that Donovan's wavering factored in his decision to go to Kentucky.

Jai Lucas was considered a package deal with Patterson. Lucas came to UF. But without his buddy there, he stayed for one year and transferred. Lucas wanted to be the point guard. But that job went to fellow '07 signee Nick Calathes.

Calathes was a stat-sheet stuffer. He quickly became the Gators' career leader in triple-doubles. It only took two. Nick, however, stayed only two years before deciding to turn pro—not for the riches of the NBA, but to play in Greece.

Really? Greece? You're leaving without one trip to the NCAAs to play in Greece?

So Billy D went from loaded at the point to very thin—and very short. Only 5'8" Erving Walker was left. He was forced to play a lot of minutes in his first two years.

Walker is a two guard by trade. He not only was playing a ton of minutes, but a new position too—perhaps the most demanding on the court. At times it affected his shot. Walker has deep range when he's fresh. Not so much when tired.

Then there were the other transfers and early defections in the frontcourt.

Billy got one good year from Marreese Speights, who left for the NBA. Hard to blame him though. He went way too high in the draft. Speights went No. 15 to Philadelphia. He has been a bench player ever since.

Eloy Vargas gave him nothing. He transferred to Kentucky. Adam Allen has had two knee surgeries. His career appears to be over. Allen Chaney did nothing and transferred to Virginia Tech. Johnny Mitchell transferred to Rutgers. Brandon Powell? I don't remember where he went. Who cares?

For two years, the Gators languished on the NCAA bubble only to get sent packing to the NIT. There were close losses. There were late-season fades. There were early SEC Tournament exits. And there were plenty of recruiting near-misses. Eric Bledsoe comes to mind.

Just when things were starting to look up after another year on the bubble bounced the Gators' way, things have started to go south again.

The Gators lost a heartbreaker to BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in double overtime. Twice UF had a chance to win on the last possession. Twice they failed. However, the fact that they made it in and did not play badly, coupled with the fact that Dan Werner was the only senior on the team, had the Gators looking good going into next year.

Finally, there was some light at the end of this tunnel—but in the words of Lee Corso, NOT SO FAST, my friend.

Within days of the end of the tournament, Florida has lost Ray Shipman, a former Mr. Florida with two years left. He has decided to transfer.

If that were not bad enough, Alex Tyus has decided to test the NBA draft waters. If not for the last couple of years, I would say UF has nothing to fear here. But the way things are going, the Clippers will probably tell Alex they will draft him No. 1.

Also, we have found out that prize recruit and Floridian Brandon Knight is being steered to Kentucky by his father. To top it all off, 2011's prize recruit, Austin Rivers, is de-committing from Florida and will likely end up at Duke.

When will Billy D be paid up? Is that snake out of venom yet?

Billy D really needs some good news.

Ray McCallum? Are you out there? Hey Ray Shipman. You know Werner is leaving, right? You can have his minutes. Alex, don't be an idiot. Stay in school. One more year can do wonders for your draft status.

I'm trying, Billy D. I'm trying.


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