OKC introduces Donovan
It's safe to say new Thunder coach Billy Donovan will stay in the NBA this time.
Donovan jokes that he has coached in the league before — eight years ago, he was hired by the Orlando Magic, only to change his mind the following day and return to the University of Florida. He said that decision had nothing to do with the Magic, and that it was more about his relationships with his family and Florida.
The 49-year-old coach said it had to "take something very, very special" to make him leave a program he led to two national championships, four Final Fours and seven Elite Eights in 19 seasons. He carefully considered the situation with his inner circle and didn't listen to outside voices before accepting the offer.
The pressure will be immediate — the Thunder have gone to three conference finals and the NBA Finals once since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008-09, but they haven't won it all. Now, Donovan inherits a team with 2013-14 MVP Kevin Durant and 2014-15 scoring champion Russell Westbrook. Plus, Durant can become a free agent after next season, giving Donovan little time to build a strong relationship with the star.
He's off to a good start building relationships. Durant and forward Nick Collison showed up at the press conference, as did Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger and Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. Kruger is a former Florida coach, and Ford played at Kentucky while Donovan was an assistant.
■ Dallas forward Chandler Parsons has undergone knee surgery, and there is no timetable for his return.
Parsons had cartilage damage in his right knee. The arthroscopic procedure Friday was done by team physician Dr. T.O. Souryal.
Parsons just finished the first season of a three-year, $46 million contract. He averaged 15.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 66 games, all starts. He missed the last six games of the regular season and all but the opener in a 4-1 first-round playoff loss to Houston, his former team. The 26-year-old Parsons might be one of just four players under contract for next season, depending on whether potential free agents opt out of current deals.
Five-star forward Brown picks Golden Bears
Five-star small forward Jaylen Brown announced his commitment to California during his senior banquet Friday night.
Brown — a 6-foot-7 prospect from Marietta, Ga. — chose the Bears over Kentucky, Michigan and North Carolina. The timing of his announcement was unexpected. The destination was, too.
Michigan had the most buzz coming into this week, and many recruiting analysts predicted Kentucky would be the Wolverines' biggest competition to land Brown, who Scout.com ranks as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2015.
Instead, he will play at Cal, which already had a commitment from five-star post player Ivan Rabb, the No. 5 overall recruit in Scout.com's rankings.
Brown was UK's top remaining recruiting target and the final McDonald's All-American from the class of 2015 to announce his college decision.
Kentucky's current class includes five-star players Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere, four-star prospect Charles Matthews, and junior-college All-American Mychal Mulder.
■ Georgia athlete Isaiah Brown announced on Friday that he will join the UK football team as a preferred walk-on in the class of 2015.
Brown — a 6-foot prospect from Martinez, Ga. — played wide receiver and cornerback for his high school team in Augusta. He was teammates with offensive lineman Calvin Taylor, who has signed with Kentucky as a scholarship player in the class of 2015.
The Cats are bringing in several preferred walk-ons in this class, including in-state quarterbacks Davis Mattingly and Noah Houk.
■ Ansley Smith hit an RBI double in the second inning, but No. 12 Tennessee responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame on a home run, two singles, a walk and hit-by-pitch, powering the Lady Vols to a 7-1 series-opening softball win over No. 21 Kentucky on Friday night in Knoxville.
First black golfer to win on PGA Tour dies
Pete Brown, the first black player to win a PGA Tour event, died Friday. He was 80.
PGA Tour officials say Brown died in Augusta. Details on the cause of death weren't immediately available.
Brown won the 1964 Waco Turner Open in Burneyville, Oklahoma, and the 1970 Andy Williams-San Diego Open.
A native of Port Gibson, Mississippi, Brown survived polio as a child and learned to play golf in Jackson, Mississippi, after first working as a caddie. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem called Brown a gentleman and a credit to the game.
Brown joined the tour in 1963, two years after Charlie Sifford broke the color barrier, and played until 1978.
■ Lee Westwood came up with two big shots and took down Masters champion Jordan Spieth on Friday.
The two were all square when Spieth chipped in for birdie on the 15th, and Westwood halved the hole with a 10-foot putt. Westwood hit out of a bunker and clear over the green on the 16th, only to halve the hole by chipping in for par. Westwood hit 6-iron to 12 feet and made birdie on the 17th, giving it a baby fist pump that spoke to the quality of the match, and then won when Spieth failed to make birdie on the final hole and conceded Westwood's birdie.
Branden Grace, Tommy Fleetwood and J.B. Holmes all lost on Wednesday. In the old single-elimination format, they would have been gone by now. Instead, all three booked a spot in the round of 16 and could face as many as four matches on the weekend.
Holmes defeated Brooks Koepka. Both finished 2-1, but Koepka was eliminated when Marc Warren lost to Russell Henley.
Molly Morgan wins La Troienne by 3 quarters
Molly Morgan ducked inside of pace-setting Sweet Whiskey at the head of the stretch, spurted clear of the field and then held off late bids from favored Sheer Drama and Gold Medal Dancer to win the 30th running of the $300,000 La Troienne (Gr. I) presented by Twinspires.com by three-quarters of a length Friday at Churchill Downs .
Trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Corey Lanerie, Molly Morgan covered the 11⁄16 miles on a fast main track in 1:43.25.
The victory, the third graded stakes victory at Churchill Downs for Molly Morgan, was worth $169,260 and increased her earnings to $872,859 with a record of 29-8-4-8.
"The race went well. (Owner) Bill (Cubbedge) let me sit on her this winter as we didn't turn her out. We just let her stay in training and get her feet back under her," Romans said. "I told Bill this is what helps winning big races down the road."
■ Lexington's Carlos Garcia doubled to right center field with two outs in the ninth inning to prevent a no-hitter, but the Asheville Tourists took a 4-1 win over the Legends Friday night in Asheville.
Asheville starter Carlos Polanco pitched the first seven innings. He hit Garcia, the game's leadoff batter. Garcia stole second, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alfredo Escalera. Polanco did not allow another baserunner.
The last word
Kevin Harvick has ideas on how to move NASCAR forward. The reigning Sprint Cup champion would shake up the schedule, which remains largely intact each year with no new tracks added and very little race-date variation. Said Harvick:
"People like things that change. They don't like stagnant things. In my opinion the most stagnant thing in our sport is our schedule and our venues that we go to. You can beat a dead horse as much as you want, but it doesn't come back to life."