'Noles' Enfield finds his spot

The Baltimore Sun

Andy Enfield was in graduate school at Maryland in the early 1990s when, as he said recently, "I started my own business."

For Enfield, who set the NCAA record for free-throw percentage by making 431 of 466 over a career at Johns Hopkins that ended in 1991, his business is teaching other players how to shoot.

Enfield's career as a shooting coach, which began with a small group of clients that included former Terps star Walt Williams and grew to include more than 100 NBA players, All-Stars Grant Hill and Ray Allen among them, will come full circle today.

In his second year as an assistant coach at Florida State, Enfield will be back in College Park when the Seminoles play Maryland at Comcast Center. One of his former clients, Keith Booth, is also now an assistant coach, with the Terps.

A former NBA assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, as well as a consultant for the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards, Enfield moved to Tallahassee after receiving an offer from Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.

"Leonard is one of those guys that I really respect as a person and a coach on the collegiate level," Enfield, 38, said. "I really didn't think about the college level until I spoke with Leonard. It just made a lot of sense, and I'm glad I did it."

The Seminoles were the top free-throw shooting team in the country until making 11 of 18 in a 78-70 loss Thursday night to Wake Forest. Florida State has made 385 of 493 (.781).

"We had started working to improve our free-throw shooting prior to Andy coming. He just has a knack, and we have an older, more mature, more receptive team that lends itself to what he's been teaching," Hamilton said.

One of Enfield's biggest individual successes has been Uche Echefu, a junior forward from Nigeria who played some of his high school career at Montrose Christian in Rockville. As a freshman, Echefu made 12 of 22 (.545) free throws. Last season, his accuracy improved to 58 of 75 (.773). This season: 90 of 107 (.841).

"The thing he emphasized [most] was to get up on my toes. Most of the time, I shot flat-footed," Echefu said. "I kept working on that. I have a lot more confidence going to the line."

Enfield doesn't see much of a difference between working with college players and pros.

"You have to very quickly prove to them that you can make a difference and help them," Enfield said. "If you can do that quickly, then they buy in and then you have a guy like Grant Hill who'll work on it every day. It's more than just going in and saying, 'Bend your knees and follow through.'"

Surprisingly, given the lack of great shooters the U.S. has produced in recent years, Enfield is one of only a handful of former players who have turned their shooting skills into a business. Chip Engelland went from Duke to the San Antonio Spurs. The Wizards use veteran shooting guru Dave Hopla.

Enfield has no plans to return to the NBA, though he still stays busy in the offseason with his camp in Northern Virginia and Web site (allnet shooting.com). In fact, Enfield would like to become a college head coach.

"That's part of the reason I'm doing this," he said. "But I made a commitment to Leonard to really get Florida State's program where we all want it to be, especially where Leonard wants it to be. No hurry on that regard. I just want to contribute while I can here at Florida State and help this program get to the elite level, not only in the ACC but nationally."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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