USC Basketball: Andy Enfield Racking In West Coast Minds


Apr 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Andy Enfield at press conference to announce his hiring as Southern California Trojans mens basketball coach at the Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Andy Enfield is already on the recruiting trail, less than a week into the office at Southern California. Enfield reached out to big name assistant coaches across the state, and his persistance paid off, as the first assistant coach will be added to the staff in the coming days. This just days after Bob Cantu was told he would not be returning on staff for next season.

According to reports on Twitter, former Pepperdine assistant coach Jason Hart is leaving to join USC’s coaching staff in a similar position under Andy Enfield. Hart most notably guided Taft to the City Section Division I title in 2012, before joining the Pepperdine Waves as an assistant coach.

Pepperdine Head Coach Marty Wilson raved about his former assistant when he was first brought on the staff this season.

“His experiences as a player at the highest level will bring a unique benefit to our program,” Wilson said. “Jason is a young man that has proven that hard work and persistence will pay off and I know that his messages will be well received by our players. He is a great family man and is a proven young coach with a vision to succeed.”

Jason Hart is a former NBA guard who started his professional career in 2000 with the Milwaukee Bucks. After bouncing around from the D-League to the NBA for numerous seasons, Hart retired in 2010 as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Andy Enfield wanted to find a offensive coach to develop his “Believe Offense”–one predicated around scoring in seven seconds or less–and Hart has the recruiting knowledge with AAU coaches to lure in top point-guard talent to lead this attack.

This type of hire is one of many exciting assistants that USC is chasing to fill out their staff. With Hart seemingly in place, the next big name on the market is SDSU assistant coach Tony Bland. The Steve Fisher protégé turned down advances from UCLA and Steve Alford earlier in the week. Bland has not been hired yet at USC, but indications lean towards him getting a chance to interview, with a job offer already in place from Andy Enfield.

Tony Bland, a two-time all-Mountain West Conference selection who guided the Aztecs to an NCAA and postseason NIT appearance in his two seasons at San Diego State. A native of Los Angeles, Bland played college basketball for two national championship coaches in Jim Boeheim and Steve Fisher. That upbringing has given him the respect of highly-touted coaches in the fraternity of college coaching.

What’s most appealing about Bland however is his relationship with AAU Coaches and High School programs in California. Andy Enfield has repeatedly stated that he wants to hire top assistants to reel in the top talent pool on the west coast and the well-respected Bland could be the perfect hire. Prior to his return to San Diego State, Bland was the personal trainer for New Orleans Hornets forward, and Westchester High graduate, Trevor Ariza.

Bland not only has respect with West Coast athletes, but could be considered the key recruiter for San Diego State over the past three seasons. Seasons in which the Aztecs made the NCAA Tournament all three times, and went as far as the Sweet 16 in 2012. Big name recruits like JJ O’Brien, James Johnson and Jamaal Franklin among the top recruits for Steve Fishers program in the last three years. This type of success makes Bland a hot choice for a big-time program.

Trojans fans felt the glitz and glamour of #EnfieldUSC but are now starting to witness the full magnitude of hiring a hot coach with the momentum to seize big names up and down the coast. The next challenge for Enfield will be to fully solidify his coaching staff to begin implementing his game plan with the current roster.