Donovan Makes Smart Choice

Billy Donovan's search for a new assistant basketball coach was a quick one. Sources tell the Florida head man has settled on Clemson assistant coach Shaka Smart as the replacement for the departed Lewis Preston.

Smart is a 31-year old who has spent the past two seasons as part of Oliver Purnell's Tiger basketball staff. Before that he spent three years with Akron as an assistant and two years as Purnell's director of basketball operations at Clemson.

Clemson is known for its pressing defense and uptempo style of play, which makes Smart's background a logical fit with what Donovan's teams are looking to do. Smart has received praise for his work as Purnell's recruiting coordinator, as Clemson has seen a major surge in the quality of its signees in his two years there. One prominent Clemson commitment for the coming signing period that stands out is Milton Jennings,'s No. 20 ranked prospect in the class of 2009 and a player Florida was involved with prior to the commitment of Erik Murphy.

Smart is considered one of the up-and-coming assistant coaching talents in the country. Every year around 50 assistant coaches considered to be the top head coaching prospects are invited to an event called the Villa 7 Consortium. While there, they are given access to seek advice from top coaches and decision makers who might be in position to hire them for a head coaching job one day. It was at that event where Anthony Grant made the connection, which eventually led to him being hired at VCU. Smart was one of this year's invited participants, which speaks volumes about the impression made by someone who's only been active as an D-1 assistant for five years.

UF officials were not confirming Smart's hiring as of Saturday evening, but an announcement is expected soon.

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