When the St. Francis boys basketball team plays Oak Hall next season, the coaches will likely get more attention than the players.
That’s because former University of Florida basketball assistant coach Monte Towe, who becomes the Eagles head coach in 2016, will be taking on the son of former Gator basketball coach Billy Donovan.
Billy Donovan III is returning to St. Francis as head boys basketball coach.
Under a mutual agreement with school athletic director David Fallo, Brian Shea, who coached the boys varsity for four years after many seasons as an assistant, is stepping away.
“We mutually decided to part ways,” Fallo said. “He did some good things for us. He had coached our girls team as well as our boys team. He is my friend and is a good guy.
“Billy is interested in coming back and helping his high school.”
Donovan, 24, has been an assistant coach at Ocala Trinity Catholic during the 2015-16 season, his first job as a basketball coach. He calls coming back to St. Francis as the boys basketball coach a dream job.
“St. Francis has been a special place for me,” Donovan said. “I have wanted to be a teacher and coach there. I’m excited about coming back.”
Donovan transferred from Catholic University to UF in 2012 as a walk-on junior. After sitting out a season, per NCAA transfer rules, he played his final two years in his father’s final years as Gator coach.
“Billy has gone to school here, he is a recognized name here,” Fallo said. “He thinks he can help in getting the school some recognition.”
Under Shea, the Wolves were 77-34 in four years, reaching the state playoffs in three seasons.
The school is undergoing several changes, such as in the administration, while also pushing to get more recognition statewide.
“It was time to try something different,” Fallo said. “He (Shea) hasn’t done anything wrong. It was just time to move on.
“Billy had been trying to get a teaching job here. We are still working on getting him something in our faculty.”
At Trinity Catholic, Donovan taught history.
The eldest son of Billy Donovan has high regard for Shea, who coached him for years at St. Francis, beginning when he was 7 years old.
“He was my first coach,” Donovan said. “Brian Shea has put St. Francis on the map as being a basketball school. I hope to keep building on that. He deserves a lot of credit for building that program.”
Donovan said initially he wants to open communication with the parents of kids who will be playing basketball next season.
“I will be getting an off-season program in place,” he said about the upcoming summer months. “I am hoping to get a summer camp going in Gainesville.”
St. Francis will remain in Class 3A next season, but move to District 2, which includes Daytona Beach Halifax, Lake Mary Prep, Orange Park St. Johns Country Day, Deltona Trinity Christian and South Daytona Warner Christian. Both P.K. Yonge and Oak Hall, once district rivals to the Wolves, move up to 4A in the three-team District 1, which also includes Tallahassee Maclay.
“It will be competitive, but that is what makes it exciting,” Donovan said. “It will be interesting to get to know the coaches and players of other teams.”