Photo by KATHERINE ALBERS // Buy this photo
Photo by JASON EASTERLY // Buy this photo
ESTERO — A shooter's touch can become a Midas one.
It's led Andy Enfield to the NCAA record books, his college Hall of Fame, a master's degree, NBA benches, an entrepeneur's wealth, marriage to a super model, uncanny heights as a collegiate assistant, and a college head coaching position a year ago at 41.
Enfield doesn't bowl overhand and hasn't "won awards for his game face alone" — like "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in the Dos Equis commercials — but the most interesting man to almost everyone who meets him certainly has game. Almost always did.
The first-year Florida Gulf Coast University men's coach was just 2 when his dad, Bill, fashioned a hoop and net atop an antique wicker chair in the not-exaclty basketball hotbed of Shippensburg, Pa., the 6,000 or so populated area that is home to the Corn Festival.
"He really developed his shooting touch when he was just a toddler, could barely walk," said Bill Enfield, a longtime Shippensburg junior and high school coach.
A Nerf hoop was later added atop his bedroom door and soon young Andy was schooling his dad, who like his mom, Barbara, is a retired teacher.
Andy, the eldest of three Enfield children, began going to his dad's practices, where he shot close range from the far corners, developing "touch form" to ensure rim-splats didn't interrupt workouts.
At Andy's insistence, Bill Enfield then began carving his 14-year-old son's niche with his bare hands, leveling a large area of the family's sloped backyard, mixing and pouring concrete and erecting the pole, backboard and net that his son and his friends wore out. At Shippenburg High, he scored more than 1,100 points before moving his game to Johns Hopkins. "Amazing experience," said Enfield, who will lead sixth-seeded FGCU (13-16) into the Atlantic Sun tournament against No. 3 seed USC Upstate at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Mercer in Macon, Ga.
FSU to FGCU
When he was announced as FGCU's second-ever coach last April 1, Enfield had just completed five seasons with Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, helping lead the Seminoles to the NCAA tournament the last three. Last season's team went to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1993, and it included 11 Top 100 players and two McDonald's All-Americans.
Enfield helped FSU land three Top 25 recruiting classes, and in 2009 was named "the most visible assistant coach in the country" by Basketball Times. ESPN The Magazine dubbed him one of "Five Super Assistant Coaches in College Basketball."
Hamilton first saw Enfield while he was working with NBA players like Alonzo Mourning in the Hurricanes' BankUnited Center.
"I was very, very impressed with his ability to communicate and teach skill development," Hamilton said. "The NBA guys all had a lot of respect for his ability to help them with their skill development in the offseason."
Four years after Hamilton took the FSU job, he offered Enfield a spot in 2006.
"He wanted to take Florida State to another level, and I wanted to help him do that," Enfield said.
They got there like most programs — with very good players, like junior All-ACC guard Michael Snaer, who was a five-star recruit and the California Player of the Year.
"(Enfield is a) big reason I came to Florida State," Snaer said. "I spent a lot of time with him, really got to know him. He told me just what to expect. If there's a kid out there he wants, he'll just stay with it."
Enfield's youth and almost-constant sense of humor meshed well with his recruit-aholic tendencies.
"Him being on the young side helped," said FSU sophomore forward Okaro White, deemed the 14th-best power forward by Rivals.com coming out of Clearwater High. "He's funny. With older coaches, I don't know, man, they kind of come across as hard and old school. I just think young players relate to young guys more than old guys. He's always got a smile on his face. That's one thing I like about him."
Enfield did a lot more than help FSU land marquee players. Hamilton is big on doling out responsibilities and his assistants were, and are, very hands on. Because of his NBA experience, the Seminoles listened closely to Enfield, particularly about shooting.
"He had the ability to say, 'I worked with the great players in the game today and I have proof on the videos,'" White said. "He had videos of Paul Pierce and people like that. So that's a big deal for young guys."
Early on, Enfield gave White one of his signature straps that helps pull in the elbow. In less than two months, White did an about-face.
"I was a horrible free-throw shooter, and it was a total improvement," White said.
Said Snaer: "He's really patient with you. It's a really sensitive area to have someone critiquing your shot. He does it in a very good way. And at the same time, he stays on you. He really helped me a lot with my game. I still use the things he taught me before he left. And even while I'm still playing here, I plan on keeping in touch with him if I have any problems with my game to get some insight."
Enfield got two serious callbacks after applying to be a Division I head coach. One did not interest him.
The one from FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh did.
A large photo of Enfield resides in the hallway near Johns Hopkins coach Bill Nelson's office.
"I tell people that's my first recruit at Johns Hopkins, and it went downhill from there," said the 26th-year Blue Jays coach, laughing.
A four-year starter at shooting guard, Enfield set the NCAA career free-throw record (92.5 percent) and holds nine school ones, including most points (2,025), and in 2001 was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Hall of Fame. That first recruit of Nelson's joined a Division III program that had gone 6-19 the previous season and played games in a gym built in 1934 that still seats just 1,100.
In Enfield's freshman season, the Blue Jays were 12-12. His last three, they played in the NCAA tourney. The 6-foot-2 Enfield started all but one game — he missed the team bus to the airport for a flight to Boston. But that was about all Enfield missed during his Blue Jays tenure. In 32 years as a head coach, Nelson said he's had two players that never sat out a practice or took a minute off during one. Enfield, who always had access to the gym and spent lots of solo nights there, was one of those two.
For 15 years, Enfield held the school record for free-throw attempts, astounding considering the "don't foul" shouts of opposing coaches.
"He loved to draw fouls," Nelson said. "You see guys now, they drive to the basket and fade away because they don't want to get hit. Andy loved to get hit — two points. He was a tough kid."
Smart, too. Enfield was named the 1991 NABC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and after earning his bachelor's degree in economics in 1991, he became the first Johns Hopkins player — and one of only five nationally — to snag a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
Enfield, though, took a job with Anderson Consulting, but didn't like it. He packed his bags for Maryland. It was a very good move.
Enfield attained his master's degree in business administration from Maryland in 1994, but not before deciding to kick-start All-Net Shooting in which he promoted instructional videos and ran camps and clinics.
One night in Cole Field House, then the home of the Terrapins, Enfield saw former Terp and then-Sacramento King Walt Williams shooting on the opposite goal with a friend. He jumped at the chance.
"I realized the only way I could get him as a client was for him to see me shooting the basketball," Enfield said. "At that time, I had a workout where I went corner to corner on the 3-point lines and then to the out of bounds line and made 28 out of 30. And I could see Walt was noticing."
Enfield introduced himself and asked if Williams wanted his help.
"And that was it," said Enfield, who had his first of what would become over 100 NBA All-Net clients.
Enfield's name reached Mike Dunleavy, then the Milwaukee Bucks coach. In 1994, Dunleavy put Enfield in charge of offensive player development.
"Tremendous experience," Enfield said. "I was never wowed. My goal was to help them become more skilled players. I was very focused, and even though I was in the NBA, it still seemed like I was in the backyard with my father."
After two seasons, Enfield decided to focus on and expand All-Net. But he took something important with him.
"I had the knowledge of the game and a skill set to make a pretty good coach," he said.
In two years, Enfield had grown All-Net into a force. He was ready to get back into coaching and landed a job with the Boston Celtics as one of Rick Pitino's three bench coaches.
"That's when I got more involved with Xs and Os," Enfield said. "I took a lot of his concepts offensively and defensively — how to use the 3-point line as a weapon, an up-tempo running game and seeing how (Pitino) adjusted his philosophies based on his personnel."
Pitino's influence on Enfield's young, oft-pressing Eagles, who are first in A-Sun 3-point shooting (37.9 percent) and third in scoring (72.6 ppg), is obvious.
After two seasons in Boston, a big-time business opportunity arose "and those don't come along very often." Enfield joined two others in founding Tractmanager.
The trio moved to Manhattan and started Tractmanager, "Mostly a central depository for all the health care contracts" from scratch. They started "with a concept of technology, then we built the company around that," Enfield said. "Very challenging."
And ultrasuccessful. The company, based mostly in Chattanooga, Tenn., is tight-lipped about income and profits, but Enfield, now a minority owner, called it, "The market leader. By far."
In 2003, a friend introduced Enfield to Amanda Marcum, who had worked her way from Mustang, Okla., population 13,000, to covergirl status in Manhattan.
The 5-10, green-eyed natural blonde who has walked runways for Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier, been featured in ads for Victoria's Secret, Liz Claiborne and Armani, and been on the covers of Elle, Maxim, Vogue, etc., was a big Oklahoma State fan and needed a ride to Boston to catch the Cowboys' NCAA tourney second-rounder.
The clean-cut Enfield impressed Amanda, nine years his junior, with his sense of humor, confidence and sports knowledge. Soon after they had their first date — to a St. John's NIT game — and six months later, they were engaged. They've been married almost eight years.
As Nelson said, Enfield "loves making money," but loves basketball even more. Enfield and Amanda wanted to start a family, and he was ready to again coach.
"And I felt the college lifestyle, the campus life, the atmosphere was more conducive (than the NBA) to having a family," Enfield said.
Enfield and Amanda had as much success in Tallahassee as the Seminoles. The youngest of their three children — Aila, 5, Lily, 4, Marcum, 11 months — were born there.
Landing With the Eagles
Enfield's name was not atop Kavanagh's list nor those speculating on who would get the FGCU job. But he really wanted this job even with its comparatively nominal $150,000 beginning salary. He loved the area, potential, facilities and the fact that after four years of transition to Division I, the Eagles would be A-Sun and NCAA tournament eligible in his first season.
The more Kavanagh learned about the Florida State assistant, the more he liked. Although there were bigger names among the hundreds who applied, in the end, the choice to pull the trigger on Enfield was easy. And Kavanagh is thrilled he made it.
"Oh, I think he's done a wonderful job," Kavanagh said. "I think he's ahead of schedule from what I was expecting and hoping for when we had the press conference on April 1."
Enfield's mom said her son "loves a challenge." He found one at FGCU, which was 153-121 all-time but just 39-82, including 10-20 last season, in its first four D-I campaigns under Dave Balza, who was fired last year after constructing the program.
"I came from the ACC, and that was a whole different perspective," Enfield said. "And before that, I was in the NBA, so I saw how programs are run at those levels. Here at FGCU, we're trying to make this a big-time mid-major program. We have an opportunity to make this an elite mid-major program. And our athletic director understands who we are and where we want to go."
The Eagles appear to be getting there. Despite often starting three true freshmen and playing five consistently, by Jan. 28, Enfield led FGCU to its 11th win, tying the best previous D-I season total. He's done it by delegating responsibilities to his young assistants, including a great deal of on-floor coaching. The non-life or death approach — not to be confused with non-competitive — of the coaching staff also has helped quickly ease the transition.
"I feel like there's a really good chemistry with the coaching staff and players," said FGCU starting sophomore forward Chase Fieler. "They say little things to lighten the mood sometimes. We're all friends. They're definitely authority figures, but there's a friendship and bond with them."
And, of course, there's Enfield's playing and coaching resume', which demands attention.
"You can tell his basketball knowledge is almost unmatched," Fieler said.
Legendary Belmont coach Rick Byrd, whose team is once again the A-Sun regular-season champ, has been impressed.
"I really like their team," Byrd said. "I think Andy's doing a great job with it. To be as young as they are and with having as many shooters as they have, if they'll just keep improving like young players do, they'll be a force in this league, I think, next year."
Before taking over at FGCU in May 2009, Kavanagh was the athletic director at Bradley for 13 seasons. While there, former Utah and current St. Louis coach Rick Majerus called to recommend an assistant for an opening. During the discussion, Majerus said something Kavanagh never will forget: "Moving from an assistant to head coach is about six inches for some people and for others it's about six miles. And you don't really know how it's going to be."
"I think Andy's shown it's six inches for him," he said.