Inaccurate! Billy never interviewed with Memphis

Contrary to a published report, Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan did not interview with the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association. A report published by Yahoo sports quoting un-named sources claimed that Donovan had interviewed with the Grizzlies and had “asked for the world” but was turned down by owner Michael Heisley.

“He didn’t interview with them,” said Florida associate head coach Larry Shyatt via phone with Gator Country Sunday afternoon. “That’s just not true and I think I would know something like that. I just spoke with him and he was on the tee box in Ireland.”

Gator Country confirmed through another source that Donovan had taken a call from Heisley but that he told the Memphis owner that he was quite content at Florida where he will sign a lucrative new contract when he returns from a trip to Ireland with a few of his friends later in the week. Upon telling Heisley no, Gator Country was told that Donovan was asked what it would take if and when he decides to go to the NBA, to which Donovan gave a list of priorities. After that, some pleasantries were exchanged and the conversation was over.

Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski said that Saturday night an un-named Donovan associate claimed Billy was offered $5 million a year and that he was intrigued by the possibility that he could coach Greg Oden or Kevin Durant next year.

Wojnarowski also claimed another un-named Donovan associate said that “Billy asked for the world and did not get it.”

This is the second time there have been rumors that Donovan was interviewing for another job. Prior to the NCAA Final Four, a Kentucky fan site was publishing one rumor after another that Donovan was signed, sealed and delivered. Donovan wouldn’t address any rumors during the tournament but three days after the Gators won the national championship by beating Ohio State, Donovan announced he was staying at Florida. Donovan also stated at that press conference that there had been only one contact with Kentucky and that was the day before when Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhardt called to inquire if he was interested in the opening.

“I don’t know where people keep coming up with this stuff,” Shyatt told Gator Country.

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In other Gator-related news, Taurean Green elected to sign with an agent Sunday, officially dispelling numerous rumors started by a couple of Kentucky fan sites. One rumor had it that Green was not going to sign with an agent, that this was a Billy Donovan ploy to try to lure McDonald’s All-American Jai Lucas to sign with the Gators. Lucas has indeed stated that he was not interested in signing with Florida as long as Green was coming back but with Green going pro, Florida was quite appealing.

Gator Country has confirmed that Taurean and Sidney Green were accompanied at the signing with the agent by Jai Lucas and Jai’s dad, former NBA coach and player John Lucas.

“They’re satisfied that Taurean not coming back to Florida,” said the Gator Country source.

Lucas and fellow McDonald’s All-American Patrick Patterson of Huntington, West Virginia are the last big names that haven’t signed letters of intent to play college basketball next season. Lucas is expected to announce any day now and Patterson has let it be known he will be announcing on May 14. Lucas and Patterson have both said they want to play college basketball together. Florida is considered a finalist for both of them.

Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.