USC hires Andy Enfield as new hoops coach
USC’s 2 1/2-month search for a basketball coach ended Monday when the school hired Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, who made history when he took the 15th-seeded Eagles to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament last month.
USC confirmed the hiring of Enfield, 43, who has had an eclectic career in both business and basketball. His 2012-13 team became known as “Dunk City” for its high-powered offense, willingness to run the floor and proclivity for dunking on opponents. The Eagles scored 70 or more points 25 times this season, and ranked 16th nationally in steals with 8.9 per game.
Enfield’s team captured the imagination of basketball fans across the country with its fearless play, particularly in a South Regional upset of second-seeded Georgetown in its tournament opener, before losing to Florida in the Sweet 16.
His wife Amanda, a former Victoria’s Secret model, also got plenty of camera time during the Eagles’ tournament appearance, the first for FGCU, which has been competing in Division I since only 2011.
The Eagles earned an NCAA bid by winning the Atlantic Sun tournament championship this year. He was 41-28 in his only two seasons as a head coach at FGCU in Fort Myers, Fla. He led the Eagles to a school-record 26 wins this season.
Enfield, a former assistant to Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, began his coaching career in the NBA as a shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1995-96, and was an assistant with Boston under Rick Pitino from 1999-2000. He is the all-time Division III free-throw percentage leader, making 92 percent of his attempts.
”Those in the basketball world have known of his abilities for a while,” said Athletic Director Pat Haden, who called called Enfield ”a relentless recruiter and he has integrity and great character.”
At USC, Enfield succeeds Kevin O’Neill, who was fired in January, and interim coach Bob Cantu, who finished the season. The Trojans went14-18 and lost to Utah in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament in Las Vegas. Starting center Dewayne Dedmon and backup big man James Blasczyk were suspended indefinitely and missed the league tourney following allegations the pair was involved in a melee in Spokane, Wash., during the team’s final Pac-12 road trip of the season.
Cantu’s status wasn’t immediately clear. He has been on the Trojans’ staff through four coaching changes and is the longest tenured assistant in the Pac-12
Enfield was making $157,000 a year at Florida Gulf Coast and reportedly has agreed to a six-year contract at USC. Financial terms have not been released, but two sources within the university said the deal will pay him more than $1 million a year.
The move is a big step up for Enfield.
FGCU has about 11,300 students, plays in a 4,500-seat arena and has existed for only 16 years; USC has 37,000 students, the Trojans play at 10,258-seat Galen Center, and the school has a long tradition of sports success, especially with its nationally ranked football team.
The basketball team has long played in the shadow of cross-town rival UCLA, which hired Steve Alford from New Mexico on Saturday.
USC hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2011. The Trojans are 12-17 all-time, with their best results coming in 2007 and 2001, when they lost in the regionals, and in 1954, when they lost in the national semifinals.
Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh reportedly turned USC down. The Trojans also had made contact with former coach Tim Floyd and Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins.
But Haden had said he wanted a candidate who favored a fast-paced style of play and had Division I head coaching experience, qualifications that Enfield has.
His recruiting has been confined mostly to the East Coast, but USC returns a roster that includes streak shooter J.T. Terrell and big men Omar Oraby and Dewayne Dedmon, plus role players Byron Wesley and Ari Stewart. If Enfield can find a junior college point guard to replace senior starter Jio Fontan, it is a team with some talent.
In a quote released by USC, Enfield said, “My family and I are thrilled to join the Trojan Family and be part of the unparalleled athletic tradition at USC. I’m looking forward to bringing an exciting, up-tempo style of play to USC and building the men’s basketball brand into one the fans and basketball community will enjoy and respect.”
He will be introduced on Wednesday.
— Diane Pucin
The Associated Press contributed to this report.