Report: Kentucky Reached Out To Billy Donovan About Its Coaching Vacancy But ‘He Decided Not To Pursue’

From the moment word broke that John Calipari would be leaving the Kentucky Wildcats for the Arkansas Razorbacks, basketball observers have kept a close eye on the coaching search in Lexington. Kentucky reportedly pursued both Baylor’s Scott Drew and UConn’s Dan Hurley (fresh off two straight national titles), only to be rebuffed in both instances.

Ultimately, Matt Norlander of CBS Sports noted that the Wildcats zeroed in on BYU head coach and former Kentucky player Mark Pope to replace Calipari, but Kentucky also reportedly made contact with Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan.

Kyle Tucker of The Athletic reports that Donovan spurned the advances and “decided not to pursue the UK opening.” Notably, Donovan was a top-tier college coach before leaving for the NBA, earning back-to-back national titles at another SEC school in Florida. The timing is also quite interesting here, as the Bulls are still in the postseason mix and preparing for an NBA Play-In Tournament game next week against the Atlanta Hawks.

Overall, it is not at all surprising that Kentucky would give Donovan a call, even if only to gauge interest. In fact, the Wildcats reportedly pursued Donovan on two other occasions in the past, before hiring Billy Gillespie and also prior to hiring Calipari more than a decade ago. Since then, Donovan has transitioned to the NBA for nine seasons and, while nothing indicates he has slammed the door on college forever, it does not appear as if he’s ready to go back just yet.