It's hard for those who remember Billy Donovan as the gunslinging guard who carried Rick Pitino and Providence to the 1987 Final Four or as the 20-something assistant coach to Pitino at Kentucky to think in these terms.
Yet, at the end of his 19-year run as head men's hoops coach at Florida, Donovan deserves to be considered one of the all-time coaching giants in Southeastern Conference history.
On Thursday, Donovan, 49, said later, Gators, and accepted the head coaching job of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder.
To understand the full magnitude of his success in a Kentucky-centric basketball league, let's examine some of the SEC's all-time coaching lists.
Most Final Fours: Adolph Rupp, Kentucky, 6; Donovan, Florida, 4; John Calipari, Kentucky, 4.
Most SEC regular-season titles: Rupp, Kentucky, 27; Joe B. Hall, Kentucky, 8; Donovan, Florida, 6.
Most SEC Tournament crowns: Rupp, Kentucky, 13; Tubby Smith, Kentucky, 5; Rick Pitino, Kentucky, 5; Wimp Sanderson, Alabama, 5; Donovan, Florida, 4.
Most wins by a coach at one SEC school: 1. Rupp, Kentucky, 875; 2. Donovan, Florida, 467.
From the Kentucky perspective, what separated Donovan from other SEC coaches — think Babe McCarthy at Mississippi State, Ray Mears at Tennessee, Dale Brown at LSU and Nolan Richardson at Arkansas — who challenged UK for SEC supremacy is that Florida sustained its threat over time.
From 2000 through 2015, Florida played in seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours, three NCAA title games and won two national championships.
Over the same time frame, Kentucky played in seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours, two NCAA title games and won one national championship.
For an SEC head coach to essentially go eyeball-to eyeball with UK over such an extended period is no small achievement.
Billy D.'s decision to take another crack at the NBA after his self-aborted, two-day stint as head man of the Orlando Magic in 2007 creates a series of fascinating questions.
Issue one: Is this a good career move for Donovan?
How could it not be?
Assuming Kevin Durant returns healthy next season, Donovan inherits a roster with two of the 10 best basketball players (KD and Russell Westbrook) in the world. It is not impossible that Billy D. next year could join Larry Brown as the only coaches to win NCAA and NBA championships.
Durant (2016) and Westbrook (2017) have pending decisions on free agency, so there's no certainty OKC is a good long-term position. Yet even if Donovan does not succeed, he is young enough to return to college hoops at the school of his choice.
Issue two: How good a basketball job is Florida?
"Football schools" such as Ohio State, Texas and Florida can be wonderful places to coach basketball — if your ego can handle not being "The Man." All three have massive resources, big in-state recruiting bases and situations where all the pressure is on the head football coach.
However, Florida had one SEC men's hoops title in the 77 seasons before Donovan. While UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley has always seemed highly committed to basketball success, the Gators' football-obsessed fan base is tepid toward the roundball.
Whether Florida can stay a high-level program without Donovan is no certainty.
Issue three: Who should Florida hire?
Had the timing been different, former UF assistant Shaka Smart would have been the obvious choice to replace Donovan. Instead, the ex-VCU head man was lured to Texas this spring.
Sentimentally, many here in Kentucky (myself included) will pull for ex-UK forward and longtime Donovan assistant John Pelphrey. However, after Pelphrey was fired as Arkansas head man after four years (69-59), is that a hire Foley could sell? The same is true of Anthony Grant, another member of the Donovan coaching tree, who was fired at Alabama this year after six seasons (117-85).
If I were Foley, my hard sell would be on Dayton's Archie Miller. The 36-year-old Miller, younger brother of Arizona head man Sean Miller, has led UD to a 53-20 mark with five NCAA Tournament victories over the past two seasons.
Regardless of the direction Florida goes, this much we know: The coach formerly known as "Billy the Kid" will not be an easy act to follow.