GAINESVILLE -- Well, Billy Donovan finally went and hired an assistant who might stick around for a few years.
The University of Florida announced on Monday morning that 26-year-old Richard Pitino [pictured] will replace former UF assistant Shaka Smart, who spent one year at UF before leaving to coach Virginia Commonwealth. Pitino is the son of Rick Pitino, who coached Donovan at Providence and gave him a job as an assistant while at Kentucky.
Pitino The Younger is the latest (and youngest) assistant basketball coach at UF since every team in the country started hiring UF assistant basketball coaches. Since Anthony Grant left in 2006, UF has had to replace an assistant coach every offseason. According to Donovan, that revolving door is as much to blame for UF's recent recruiting woes as anything. (I'm not buying that, of course.)
Richard Pitino coached at Louisville for two years before leaving the family nest and, well, moving to the extended family nest. Let's face it, Donovan is like Rick Pitino's son, so that makes Richard Pitino like Billy's nephew ... or brother once removed or something. Whatever it is, this hire is the closest thing to nepotism as the University of Florida probably allows. (Wait, who am I kidding?)
“I’ve known Richard his whole life. I feel like we’re getting a terrific recruiter, basketball coach and person," Donovan said. "We’re also getting somebody that also understands our program and system because of the similarities between what we do and what Louisville does."
That was Donovan's written statement on Monday. Of course, there was one more line. Donovan made sure to thank Don Corleone.
"I’m grateful to Coach Pitino for allowing me to help Richard continue to grow and develop as a coach,“ Donovan said.
What Donovan is really thankful for these days is a fan base who is either apathetic towards UF's current basketball situation or just not paying attention because the football team is on ESPN all the time. UF basketball is in treading water right now and in need of some serious help in the form of two or three additions during the late-season signing period (which began on April 15 and ends mid May).
More on the state of UF basketball either tonight or tomorrow. Today is supposed to be my off day, so I'm stepping away from the laptop for a few hours and taking the pups to the Suwannee River.
(P.S.: I won't be twittering.)