TRANSCRIPTS: Donovan and Juniors

At a press conference today, Coach Donovan talks about his decision to stay and the four Juniors talk about their decision to leave for the NBA.


"I did talk to Mitch today. I had some time to think about it. Jeremy (Foley) got a phone call from Mitch, and Jeremy let me know yesterday that they wanted to talk. I felt like when we got back on Monday, I had Tuesday and Wednesday to think about it a little bit. I've got a strong place in my heart for Kentucky because I started coaching there, and they gave me a great opportunity with Coach Pitino and Coach Pitino bringing me along with him. I have great respect for the tradition, for the fans, for the program, for everything that it represents. In our conversation this morning, when I did speak to Mitch, we never discussed the job being offered to me. We never discussed financial package. None of that stuff was ever discussed. I think Mitch's main reason for the phone conversation was to find out where my interest level was. I felt like the right thing to do was to be able to make a decision without stringing anybody on. I have too much respect for Jeremy and the job he does here, and Dr. Machen and the University of Florida. I have too much respect for the administration and Mitch, and they job they've got to do at Kentucky. I just really felt like I wanted to make a decision on what was going to make me happy, and I'm happy here at Florida. I love the University of Florida. I love the relationship I have with Jeremy, Dr. Machen, the school, the players we've been able to coach, the commitment to basketball. I'm happy here. That's what it came down to. It never came down to dollars and cents. There's never been any money discussed. I didn't think it was right or appropriate to have both schools going back and forth. I felt like I needed to make a decision of what was going to make me happy. That's how the whole process unfolded. Kentucky's a great program, great tradition. I think Mitch is a terrific athletic director, and they have great fans. I felt like at this time in my life, the best thing for me was the University of Florida."

On what factored into the decision to stay:

"When I was 28, 29 or 30, I could do a lot of things because the kids were younger. Now, there are five other people that factor into my decision. One thing I love and respect about my wife is that she loves Gainesville, Fla., but she's also very supportive of me and if I had made the decision to leave, I think she would have been very supportive of that decision and she would have been behind me. I also know that she and my kids are very happy here and I'm happy here and I felt like I needed to make a decision based on that rather than maybe some other variables."

On his confidence in Florida:

"Jeremy (Foley) and I met this morning, and before he and I talked about contracts or anything, I told him that I wanted to be at Florida. This is where I wanted to be, I am committed to being here. We had talked some parameters about the contract and I didn't make a decision to come back here based on the contract. I made the decision to come back here based on relationships and the way I feel about this school. I am confident that when I go to sign a contract, the ball is in Jeremy's hands and Dr. Machen's hands, and there's a process that is gone through with the University of Florida when it comes to drawing up contracts. I have no doubt that Jeremy is going to get something done that I will be very happy with. I feel good abut that. I trust Jeremy, I trust Dr. Machen and I trust the school. I feel I have always been treated very fairly here, I've always been treated very well here and I know that Jeremy will get to work and do what he needs to do. I am very comfortable with where things are right now, and I need to wait for when things are comfortable with Jeremy. It's on him. It's not on me and when all is said and done, I will be pleased"

On deciding to stay:

"Kentucky is a great program, they have great fans and great winning traditions and there are a lot of special things there. I had the opportunity to experience a lot of those things for five years as an assistant. I'm also proud of what we, the administration, have been trying to build (at Florida). We're trying to build something. I want to try to continue to keep building that. I'm still excited about trying to keep doing that around here. Really, the decision came down to my heart and where I was happy. And it's like, ‘Well, Kentucky has a great tradition, there's nothing to build there, Florida's got no tradition, and we'd have to build it.' I really factored it down to where I enjoy working. There's no question that Kentucky has tremendous commitment to basketball and its program, but I really feel that Florida and Jeremy Foley have made a great commitment to basketball here. It really didn't factor too much in for me, as much as where am I happiest? Where will I be happy? And right now, I'm happy."

On next year:

"I think next year, we're back at a point where we're starting over in many respects. You can't lose half of your team * four of whom are NBA draft picks, the two-guard spot that's the all-time 3-point field goal leader in NCAA history and a back-up center that would have started in most SEC programs - and not miss a beat. We have a very young, unproven team with kids without experience of being in crucial situations with key moments or being in key games. They've had a chance to watch a lot, and to practice a lot, but they haven't had a chance to go out there and perform. We're going to have to get back to work. One thing that's great about our program is that we'll have a lot of playing time, and there might be a situation where everyone's starting from scratch and working to prove themselves, and here we came back with a team that was pretty much in tact, but now we come back with a team that is completely not in tact. We'll have a lot of work ahead of us."

On the expectations of the rising sophomores:

"I think its' going to be a challenge. Again, I felt like if you looked at Brewer and Noah and Horford and Green, the minutes they played as freshman were far more significant than what this freshman class has played. We obviously had some very talented guys coming back, so maybe they weren't afforded the opportunity, but I don't know about this group coming back. I don't say that in a bad way, it's just that I don't know. They've got a lot of work cut out for themselves right now. I made the comment last year that I didn't know where the team was going to go, but I knew everyone was going to love watching this team play. For the freshman class, it was a learning experience, but I also think it was a hard year. When you have something good going, then to give it to new guys, they don't want to mess things up. They're great kids. They're humble. You've got to be as a competitor to realize when it's not your turn yet. I'm very respectful of their attitude and humility. They really blended into the chemistry of our team. To sit here and say they're going to do the same things that Noah and Horford and Brewer and Green did as sophomores, I think people would be way out of line and people would be way off base."

On filling out the roster this spring through recruiting:

"I think we have to -- we are still actively recruiting. One thing to mention is plenty of playing time. I also think we need to make good decisions and evaluate everything, and bring guys in here that can contribute and be a part of a team, as well as have a level of unselfishness that has been demonstrated by the last two years. I think even the teams before them, maybe we didn't get as far, but those kids * Matt Walsh, Anthony Roberson and David Lee * those kids were great, too, and they worked very hard. The Brett Nelsons, the Matt Bonners, they worked hard. Hopefully we can do the best job we can to get back to building a team. I think everyone here will agree that there isn't a team that will have lost as much as we have lost in these six kids."


Florida head coach Billy Donovan:

"I'm happy and I'm sad. Happy, because I've never seen a group of kids grow the way these guys have grown, and sad that I'm not going to have a chance to coach them anymore. I've had a chance to meet with them and I've had a chance to meet with their families. They've made the decision to forego their senior years and to enter the NBA draft. I do not expect any of them back here next year. Their focus is on trying to further their careers in the game of basketball, and I know there will be a lot of talk about leaving options open, but the one thing I've always respected about the four of them is that when they put their mind to something they're usually very successful. The way I'm viewing this is that Monday night in Atlanta is the last chance I had to coach these four guys. As I look at them, they're the consummate winners, and obviously, at the next level, I think general managers, scouts and presidents of organizations are trying to help their team find players that can take the organization to a different level. The thing that's so unique about this group is that they're all different positions. Taurean (Green), for the past two years has really been our only pure point guard. Al (Horford) had some injuries this year, Corey (Brewer) and Joakim (Noah) had some illnesses. Knock on wood, the only one of the four to be completely healthy all year long and all last year was Taurean Green. The true success of a team can be defined by a point guard. I don't think there's a better point guard in the United States of America, and I think whatever team elects to take him in the draft will be getting the best point guard in the league. As far as it goes for Corey, you're looking at a wing player, having to defensively shut people down, and he's a guy that plays with great energy and can do so many different things. He is so versatile. I would say if you're looking for a wing player, he's the best one in the draft in the past two years. The two frontcourt guys * Joakim last year took everybody by surprise and everyone thought that maybe his draft status was the number one overall pick, and then to come back and take on the challenge of this year, being under such a microscope, and having to battle and compete and help our team in a different way than he did a year ago, just a phenomenal competitor and a guy at seven feet with great skills. Still, I think his ceiling for improvement is way above his head. I think he's got so much growth. And again, when you think about the power forward spot or any forward position, Joakim as a competitor, you have to put him at the top of the list. And our last guy, Al, he's kind of a silent assassin, he doesn't really say a lot, and he doesn't show a lot of emotion, but as far as a competitor and a guy whose offense has grown and developed, and the way he rebounds and defends, his intelligence level, he's it. If I were starting a team with any of these guys, and I had a need at any one of their four positions, they'd be at the very top of my draft board. I can say this because I've had the opportunity to coach all four of them and I'm so thankful because we've been able to develop a close relationship and it's been a tremendous and a magical ride and I'll be one of the first ones to tell you that they're probably a little bit saddened that Lee Humphrey and Chris Richard and the rest of the team are not up here with them. This is not an isolated situation. These are the only four guys that have decisions to make about their futures, and their futures are to pursue the next level. I couldn't be happier for them and prouder of them. I'm just sad I don't have the chance to coach them for another year, and very blessed to have coached them for three."

Joakim Noah:

"I feel like the last three years have been an unbelievable experience. I feel like not being able to play during my freshman year was really humbling. Last year, winning a national championship and going through having no expectations to all the expectations in the world, I feel like it's unbelievable and then coming back to school * really, I feel like what we did was more than basketball. We followed our hearts. We didn't listen to what people had to say. We didn't listen to the expectations. I'm just happy to have met guys like this. This is something that we'll remember for the rest of our lives and I'm just so happy right now to be in this situation with these guys. This is something that we'll never forget."

Corey Brewer:

"I'm happy to be able to go through this with these three guys up here. I feel like it's been the best three years of our lives up until this point. We've learned so much from each other, from coach and our teammates, it feels good now. Even though we're going our separate ways, we'll always be together. I'm just happy."

Taurean Green:

"I'm happy to be in this situation with these guys. These are my best friends, along with the other guys on our team. We've had experiences and a great run, and we've been with each other through it all and I'm just excited to share this moment with them."

Al Horford:

"I'm very happy to have been able to play with these guys and coach. It's been a great experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

On leaving school early to enter the NBA Draft:

TG: "I feel that I'm ready for the next level, just talking to coach. We've accomplished so much here, and I feel that we came in together and we want to go out together."

BD: "(Taurean) is very humble, but I told him he needed to go based on the things that I was hearing, based on the fact that you look at a basketball team and so much is defined by the point guard and you look at how many point guards have had the chance to lead their teams to two national championships. There aren't many guys in that category. That's not taking away from the team. We're a team. We did it as a team, but one thing I've respected about Taurean is that he was probably looking towards me to help him, and I told him that I thought he needed to go. I think that helped him a little bit, he had a chance to meet with his mom and dad, and I gave him my opinion, which was that he, and not only Taurean, but all of them, needed to take the next step."

AH: "It was very emotional, I'm just excited about the opportunity to play with these guys and the coaches and the staff."

On knowing when it was time to leave:

CB: "I feel like we've done everything we could possibly do in college basketball, and then some more. It's been so much fun, but I feel like we all know it's time to move on and take new challenges. It's hard though, because we love each other so much."

On the difficulty level of this year versus last:

AH: "I feel like this year it showed the strength of our team. I feel like we had a lot of character development. We had some ups and downs. I always hear Jo talking about not getting too high or too low, and about living in the moment and take advantage of every opportunity we got, and I feel we were really able to do that."

On the juniors' character:

BD: "I think if you want to know why we won, you can see the commitment on their faces. That's why we won the last two years. It's because of their love for one another, their love for the school, their love for their teammates. They're emotional up here for each other, but they're emotional with the rest of the team too. It's not just these four guys and the rest of the team. They're going to miss Chris Richard and Lee Humphrey and Dan Werner and Walter (Hodge). It's the whole team, but the reason these guys have won so big is because of the emotions they're sharing right now. They're being real and they're expressing their emotions as a team. How many kids do you see that make an announcement to go to the NBA just break down and cry? Most kids are happy and joyful. That shows you the type of character I've had the opportunity to coach the last three years. They're different kids, and I think that's why we've won. We've been a team and it's been all about team, and we've helped foster the team."

On having reunions in the next 10-20 years:

JN: "Ten or 20 years? We're going to have a reunion tonight. Tonight will be a reunion. The last four nights have been reunions. We're going to keep it up."

On the timing of the decision:

AH: "We kind of already knew when the time was right. I think if one of us would stay behind, it wouldn't have felt right, it would have been different, but we all pretty much know it's time to do this."

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