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Andy Enfield seeks to create 'national brand' for USC basketball

New Trojans coach, who burst into national spotlight with Florida Gulf Coast during NCAA tournament, will be introduced on campus Wednesday.

April 02, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • The selection process that eventually resulted Andy Enfield USC's basketball coach began over a year ago when USC Athletic Director Pat Haden hired a recruitment firm to search for a new coach more than a year ago.
The selection process that eventually resulted Andy Enfield USC's… (Tom Pennington / Getty Images )

A process that started quietly more than a year ago went into overdrive last weekend and culminated with Andy Enfield's becoming USC's basketball coach.

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said Tuesday that Enfield, who coached at Florida Gulf Coast the last two seasons, was hired after a vetting process that once included 40 to 50 names.

Haden fired Kevin O'Neill in January and the Trojans finished the season under interim Coach Bob Cantu. Haden, who said he hired a recruitment firm to search for a new coach more than a year ago, met with Enfield for 4 1/2 hours on Monday before announcing his hiring that evening. The coach will be introduced on campus Wednesday.

"Admittedly, he came up on our radar screen late in our process," Haden said during a teleconference with reporters, "but we feel that we did a very thorough job in a relatively quick time."

Enfield, 43, burst into the national spotlight last month when he guided 15th-seeded FGCU to a victory over second-seeded Georgetown in the South Regional of the NCAA tournament. That was part of a run to the Sweet 16, where FGCU's season ended with a loss to Florida.

"Everything came together this weekend after our game on Friday night and through the weekend," Enfield said during a conference call Tuesday, adding, "Things move quickly in this business."

FGCU's tournament run and an up-tempo style dubbed "Dunk City" made Enfield a hot commodity. Enfield said there was "significant interest" but declined to name other schools that contacted him or his representative, saying of USC, "When you know where you want to be it doesn't matter when it was started or when it was ended. You just have a gut feeling and you know."

Enfield takes over a USC program that finished with a record of 14-18 overall, 9-9 in the Pac-12 Conference.

"We really need to, and want to, make basketball relevant at USC," Haden said.

Enfield said he wanted to "create a national brand" for USC basketball and would recruit locally, nationally and internationally. He said he would take the next week to speak with possible assistants for a staff "that can recruit anywhere in the country." The staff will include people that "have ties to the Los Angeles area, Southern California, but I want a well-rounded staff."

Enfield, who reportedly did very well financially as an employee and investor in a software company, said his business background "was a little exaggerated" by media reports but said it also served him well because a coach "needs to be a CEO of a basketball program."

Enfield, who played at Johns Hopkins, worked as a shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics and was an assistant at Florida State before he was hired at FGCU.

"I know what it's like to be the second sport at the university," he said, referring to Florida State and USC football.

Haden said Enfield's up-tempo style resonated with USC's administrators.

"I like to enjoy my team and I want my players to have fun," Enfield said. "And I know that word, fun, is a kind of generic term sometimes, but I really mean that. We enjoy ourselves.

"I'm pretty laid-back. I raise my voice when I have to get their attention but I believe in positive reinforcement."

USC players are excited about playing in Enfield's system.

Guard Byron Wesley said he became a fan of Enfield's FGCU team during the NCAA tournament.

"After the first game, I saw it wasn't a fluke — they were legit," Wesley said during a short interview on campus. "I really like their style of play. He really let them play, throw lobs and just play exciting."

Forward Ari Stewart was looking forward to meeting and playing for Enfield. "The way he plays, running up and down, it's called Dunk City — that's all good for somebody like me who's athletic and can run," Stewart said.

Wesley said he had spoken with a few teammates about Enfield.

"Everyone has the same attitude — real excited to meet him and to get going," he said.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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