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Women's basketball

Florida names Newbauer womens hoops head coach

Florida has hired Belmont coach Cameron Newbauer as its next women's basketball head coach.

The Gators spoke with trailblazing NBA assistant Becky Hammon about the open job, but according to a person familiar with the search, it became clear Hammon wanted to remain in the NBA. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because details of the coaching search have not been made public.

Hammon was the first, full-time, female assistant coach in league history when San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich added her to his staff in 2014. The former WNBA star has aspirations of being an NBA head coach.

So the Gators turned to the 38-year-old Newbauer to replace Amanda Butler, who was fired earlier this month following a 10th - and arguably most disappointing - season at her alma mater.

''Cameron Newbauer brings energy, vision and an incredible work ethic to the University of Florida,'' athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. ''In addition to developing well-coached teams, he's a hard-charger when it comes to recruiting and fan engagement. He's coached in our league with Georgia and coached in the Final Four with Louisville. As a head coach, Cameron's built the Belmont program and led them to back-to-back NCAA berths.

''I share his confidence that he can build Florida women's basketball into a conference and national contender, and look forward to Cameron, Sarah and their family joining the Gators.''

Belmont went 51-15, including 29-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference, the last two years under Newbauer. The Bruins finished 27-6 this season, including 16-0 in the OVC, and lost a three-point game to Kentucky in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Newbauer was 79-50 in four seasons in Nashville, Tennessee. He also has served as an assistant at Georgia (2008-12) and Louisville (2012-13).

Florida finished with a losing record (15-16) for the second time in three years. The Gators were 190-137 and 71-85 in Southeastern Conference play during Butler's decade in Gainesville. Florida earned four NCAA Tournament berths, but failed to get past the second round in any of them.

Now, it's Newbauer's turn to try to turn around the only program on campus without a conference title.

''It's an incredible challenge,'' Newbauer said. ''That's why I love it and want to embrace it. The Southeastern Conference is the best conference in the nation. All sports, let alone women's basketball. It's an absolute dream come true for me. I've worked and been blessed and fortunate to have opportunities come my way. This opportunity is going to take a lot of hard work and diligence, but it's one I'm proud to have in front of me.''

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March 27, 2017