Pelphrey Glad to be Back in Gainesville

When John Pelphrey made his return to the Florida basketball offices in Gainesville, the Gators assistant coach didn't recognize the building he spent six years in. It has changed quite a bit since then. The additions of multiple Final Four courts to the practice facility and two crystal balls to the trophy case stood out when he first returned to his office.

"When I got the job here on a Wednesday morning and was walking around… It looks totally different because of the history on those walls," John Pelphrey said. "There have been a lot of things here in a positive way."

There was only one job in America that Pelphrey was willing to take as an assistant coach. That job was in Gainesville. Two and a half weeks after Pelphrey was fired as the head coach of Arkansas, he knew that the Florida job was a possibility.

The Gators staff was gutted as Larry Shyatt took the head coach job at Wyoming, while Rob Lanier (Texas) and Richard Pitino (Louisville) left to take assistant coach jobs at other schools. It set up perfectly for Pelphrey to return to a very familiar situation.

"I think the good Lord had a hand in it," Pelphrey said.

The importance for the coaching staff and the program comes in continuity. Losing three assistant coaches is tough for any program to overcome without taking a hit on the court, but Florida head coach Billy Donovan hopes to avoid that by bringing in two assistants who are familiar with the program.

Matt McCall, who started his coaching career as a student manager at UF, joins Pelphrey.

"I think with John coming back immediately, he knew me well enough that he would be a part of a great bond and chemistry," Donovan said. "I don't want to necessarily duplicate what happened in the past, but at least there will be some kind of chemistry there that will be very important. I think we have three guys that will work well and sacrifice to make that happen."

Pelphrey also brings ten years of head coaching experience between stops at South Alabama and Arkansas. His firing surprised some, especially after he recruited top class to come in next year, but the experiences can help the Florida program.

"I've been fortunate and blessed to have been in big places and have opportunities at a young age," Pelphrey said. "My opportunity now is to play my role on this coaching team. If you work hard together and do it every single day, you've got a chance to repeat the success from the past."

The return to the Florida basketball program brings back memories of his success at Florida, but the comfort with the job is helped by the Pelphrey family's love for Gainesville.

"It's because it is him and all my kids are born here," Pelphrey said. "This is a safe place. There were a lot of things that played into it. I don't see myself taking this opportunity anywhere else."

Fightin Gators Top Stories