Skip to main content

ESPN Names Florida's Billy Donovan Best Coach In CBB, Ranks Kentucky's John Calipari No. 2

The Southeastern Conference might be a football league, but according to ESPN, it's also home to the country's two best college basketball coaches. 

For roughly the past month, has been ranking the top 50 coaches in college basketball. Today, they revealed who is No. 1 on the list. It's Florida's Billy Donovan. Who's No. 2? Kentucky's John Calipari. 

">July 3, 2014

From, this is how they compiled the rankings: 

We asked a panel of nearly 100 ESPN writers, editors, broadcasters and researchers to rate college basketball coaches on all aspects of running a program, on a scale of 1-10. (The crucial distinction here is that the prompt was not career-oriented. This isn't about legacy. It's all about the present.) We compiled their scores and ranked the names, and now comes the fun part: The big reveal.

Is ranking Donovan ahead of Calipari justified? It seems to be. 

While Calipari is the better recruiter--a No. 1 or No. 2 class every year since he's been at Kentucky--Donovan's been more consistent in his ability to develop great teams. The Gators have made the Elite Eight every year since 2011. This season, Florida, the No. 1 team in the country, reached the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion Connecticut. 

The most impressive part about Donovan's success? He's doing it, right now, without elite NBA talent. This past season's squad--the best in college basketball until the Final Four--had zero players drafted. The only players during the stretch of four straight Elite Eight appearances to make a big impact in the NBA is Chandler Parsons, who was a second round draft pick, and Bradley Beal, who spent one season in Gainesville. 

Donovan, 49, has two national championships, four Final Fours, and four SEC Tournament championships on his resume. If you could pick one coach to start a program with, you'd have a hard time arguing for anyone but Donovan.