File - In this March 12, 2015, file photo, Alabama head coach Anthony Grant speaks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament against Florida, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama fired Gr
Mark Humphrey, File
April 13, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach Billy Donovan has the gang back together in Gainesville.

Donovan announced Monday that he has hired former Alabama coach Anthony Grant as an assistant. Grant replaces Matt McCall, who left to take the head coaching job at Chattanooga.

The move reunites Donovan, Grant and John Pelphrey - the trio that helped turn fledgling Florida into a Southeastern Conference and national power beginning in the late 1990s.

''I'm extremely appreciative of coach Donovan extending the opportunity to me to return to the University of Florida,'' Grant said in a statement.

''It's a great chance to return to a place I love and have fond memories of, and I look forward to helping the staff build on the tradition and success that coach Donovan has created.''

Grant spent 10 seasons as an assistant at Florida (1996-2006), part of a staff that guided the Gators to the 2006 national championship, the 2000 national championship game, two SEC titles (2000, 2001) and two SEC tournament titles (2005, 2006). The Gators went 226-98 while Grant was in Gainesville.

''We're very excited to have Anthony back on our staff,'' Donovan said. ''He's obviously familiar with our program, and he is an outstanding coach and recruiter, so he adds great value to our staff and our team.''

Grant left Gainesville after the 2006 season to become the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, where he led VCU to a 76-25 record in three seasons.

Grant left the Rams to take over at Alabama, where he went 117-85. The Tide recorded three straight 20-win seasons from 2011-13, marking the first time in more than two decades that the program achieved that feat. From 2011-15, the Tide had 48 conference victories - third in the league behind Florida and Kentucky.

Donovan, Pelphrey and Grant essentially grew up coaching together.

Donovan was 23 years old when he became a graduate assistant at Kentucky under Rick Pitino in 1991. Pelphrey was a senior captain with the Wildcats. Three years later, Donovan got the head coaching job at Marshall and asked Pelphrey and Grant to join him.

They won 35 games in two seasons at Marshall, and then made the leap to Florida. Donovan was a young, fast-talking recruiting machine and Pelphrey and Grant were his right-hand men.

Together, they made basketball matter in Gainesville.

They led the Gators to the NCAA championship game in 2000 in Donovan's fourth season and eventually turned a mediocre basketball program into a perennial power, and they did it at a place where football is king.

They played golf and pickup basketball games together, traveled together and even raised families together.

Their experiences, good and bad, have them bonded for life - and surely made it easy for Donovan to bring Pelphrey and now Grant back to Florida after they were fired at previous stops.

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