Pitino: Donovan a 'perfect fit' with Thunder

Billy Donovan, Rick Pitino Malcolm Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino is Billy Donovan's mentor, and a case can be made that no one is closer to Oklahoma City's new head coach. Donovan played for Pitino back in the day at Providence and the two have remained extremely close over the years.

Pitino took a couple of shots at the NBA -- with the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics -- before returning to the college ranks. Now Donovan will get his shot at the next level, but Pitino explains how it's completely different from his time in the NBA, and also why Donovan will be successful in the league.

He talked about Donovan less than an hour after the news broke that his protégé was leaving Gainesville for the Thunder:

Were you surprised by Billy Donovan going to Oklahoma City?

"We have talked about [going to the NBA] many times, and my advice to him has always been not to do what most college coaches do -- and that's take a bad job. So many college guys wind up getting bad jobs, but this is a great situation for him. I always told him to wait for a good one. He did and got a great situation. I think one of the main reasons he got this job was due to his relationship with Sam Presti."

You had a shot in the NBA and it didn't work out in Boston. What would you have done differently?

"My problem was my lack of patience, but we had to rebuild it and we lost [a chance to draft Tim] Duncan. Billy's in a totally different situation. Billy doesn't need any advice when it comes to coaching. But the most important thing for him will be establishing good relationships with [Kevin] Durant, [Russell] Westbrook and [Serge] Ibaka. That's going to be the key for him. Everything else will take care of itself."