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A busy news day today [UPDATED BELOW]

Lots of stuff going on, as you might expect.  The coaching search is heating up.  Rumors are flying.  Reports of aircraft coming and going from various basketball school locations are being posted everywhere.  Excitement is in the air.

So let's get to the news.  Everyone seems to agree that #1 on UK's wish list for a new coach is Billy Donovan, and so he is featured prominently in many articles today.  We'll start with Rick Bozich at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he quotes Joakim Noah:

"That's the kind of poison we've been dealing with all season," Gators junior Joakim Noah said. "Is this guy leaving? Is that guy going pro? People have been trying to bring us down all year.

"Coach Donovan would never talk about stuff like that with us right now. It wouldn't cross his mind. He knows how hard it is to get to the Final Four. He knows what we're trying to accomplish."

Noah apparently has some kind of siege mentality.  Get over yourself, kid.

As if UK didn't need more motivation to try to convince Donovan to come to UK, star Florida recruit Nick Calathes is in Louisville for the McDonald's All-America game on Wednesday, and tells the C-J he would follow Donovan if he leaves Florida:

"I've been hearing a lot of rumors since I have been here," said Calathes, who has signed with the Gators. "If he comes to Kentucky, then I will come with him. I will definitely follow him wherever he goes."

If Donovan came to Kentucky and Calathes and Patterson followed, it would cause a celebration in Lexington that would rival 1998, and with Morris in the NBA, a fifth scholarship is open.

Florida's president says that they will not lose Donovan to UK, period:

Machen said Donovan "owes it" to himself to listen to UK officials if there's an invitation to replace Tubby Smith, who left the Cats for Minnesota.

"But," he warned, "we're not going to lose him to anybody. One thing about Jeremy and all of our coaches is there is a level of trust. We could have (finished an extension) earlier, but the fact that Billy and Jeremy trust each other, I think that's why there hasn't been (any hurry)."

If there is so much trust, Dr. Machen, why hasn't Donovan "just said no" when asked if he would consider the UK job?  I'm thinking that you're reaching, sir.  Doesn't mean you're wrong, but actions speak much louder than words.

And speaking of the McDonald's All America game, some UK recruits have been doing a little talking, namely Jai Lucas and Patrick Patterson.  Quoth Lucas:

"I feel pretty confident (UK) will get a good coach, and then I will have to sit down and think about things," Lucas said. "Tubby Smith is all I knew about Kentucky basketball growing up. You couldn't picture him anywhere else. It was shocking.

"But Kentucky basketball -- it doesn't get any bigger than that. It's the tradition. Either way -- with or without Tubby -- it's still Kentucky basketball."

And Patterson says he hasn't given up on UK yet either, despite earlier comments by his mother suggesting the contrary:
"I don't have to wait," he said. "I still like Kentucky even if Coach Smith left. Kentucky is a great basketball school. Kentucky is a basketball school, and that's the No. 1 thing about Kentucky."

Not only that, Patrick says that if Donovan leaves Florida to UK, it likely helps UK's chances:
Patterson said if a coach at a school on his list -- such as Florida -- heads to UK it "may help Kentucky a lot and may not help the school he leaves."

I'm thinking the fans in Florida are getting pretty nervous right now.  Despite their brave words, I'm thinking the administration is, also.

Finally, Randolph Morris told the Associated Press that Smith leaving UK was the "final factor" in his decision to accept an NBA contract:

"It was basically the final factor that made me comfortable leaving because I was teetering back and forth," Morris said. "It just happened that he left, and that's basically made me more comfortable making my decision."

Had Smith decided to stay, Morris said, "It would have been a tougher decision for me, because obviously I was comfortable with his system and I had a great season."

That should surprise exactly nobody.  Morris all but promised he would graduate after Smith got him reinstated, and nobody likes to choose between keeping their word and almost $2M guaranteed dollars.

Smith not only made it easy for UK, but for Morris as well.

Update [2007-3-26 17:8:41 by Truzenzuzex]: Rather than make a whole new post, I'm bringing a couple of updates:

Bozich notices Donovan isn't telling UK to go away.

Meanwhile, Ryan Ferguson over at the AOL Sports Blog poo-pooh's all this Donovan talk, almost (but not quite) suggesting he stay where he is.

Thanks, Ryan. :-)

In this article, Lee Humphrey thinks Billy D. would need serious security when he returns to the O'Connell center if he leaves for UK. Corey Brewer just can't figure out why anyone who has a nice, cushy job would coach for UK.

Finally, Mike Berandino of the South Florida Sun-Sentinal thinks Donovan is just amping up the pressure on UF to part with a lot more cash by being non-committal.

Keep telling yourself that, Mike.