Andy Enfield begins to confront the pressure of coaching Bronny James
Andy Enfield isn’t dumb. He knew what he was getting into when he recruited Bronny James. He knew that if he could land Bronny, he would face exponentially more media scrutiny than at any previous point in his coaching career.
Keep in mind that Enfield has coached in the Elite Eight. He took Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. As the coach of “Dunk City,” he was hugely in demand as a figure media outlets wanted to talk to. Enfield has dealt with surges in visibility and attention from national and Los Angeles-based media organizations.
Yet, nothing will compare to coaching LeBron James’ son and having LeBron attend USC games at the Galen Center when he can. Everything will exist on a whole new level.
As Justin Mendoza of USA TODAY Sports notes, Enfield has begun to talk about this new world and assess what it will be like to coach the son of LeBron and Savannah James, two proud basketball parents with big expectations.
Here are some details from Mendoza’s story:
ENFIELD WITH ESPN
Mar 18, 2022; Greenville, SC, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Andy Enfield reacts against the Miami Hurricanes during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Enfield knows that Stephen A. Smith and other national media personalities will have a sudden interest in USC hoops.
Mendoza noted that “Enfield spoke with ESPN after the eldest son of LeBron James committed to play for the Trojans on May 6, saying parents Lebron and Savannah James have been ‘extremely supportive’ of their son’s college choice.”
Enfield definitely has a tall task in front of him to manage expectations yet also remain firmly aspirational. You can see this process — this balancing act — begin to develop at USC.
ENCOURAGEMENT, NOT EGO
Mar 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; West guard Bronny James (6) poses for a family photo with grandmother Gloria Marie James, mother Savannah James , brother Bryce Maximus James, sister Zhuri Nova James and father LeBron James following the McDonald’s All American Boy’s high school basketball game at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Enfield seems very much at peace with the idea that LeBron and Savannah James will be USC basketball parents: aware of what their son needs, hopeful of what Bronny can become, but not being overly aggressive in insisting on anything.
“We think, as coaching staff, LeBron and Savannah have a great understanding of what it’s going to take for Bronny to be a great college player and get to the next level,” Enfield said to ESPN.
Feb 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) celebrates with his son Bronny James after breaking the all-time scoring record in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
How proud is LeBron of Bronny?
Mendoza noted in his USA TODAY Sports story that “Lebron James has been vocal about his excitement for his son to play for USC. The same day Bronny James committed, he told Spectrum SportsNet after the Lakers defeated Golden State, 127-97, in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals it was one of the best days of his life.”
THE PRESSURE BEYOND BRONNY
Mar 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; McDonald’s All American West guard Isaiah Collier (4) is fouled by McDonald’s All American East guard Cody Williams (10) during the first half at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Enfield knows the pressure attached to this upcoming USC season goes beyond Bronny James. As Mendoza pointed out, “Bronny James will be joining a coveted recruiting class, as the four-star prospect, according to 247 Sports, alongside guard Isaiah Collier (No. 2 overall via 247 Sports) and center Arrinten Page (No. 51 overall via 247 sports). Former Washington State forward DJ Rodman, son of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, announced his transfer to the Trojans.”
BRONNY THE PERSON
Mar 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; McDonald’s All American West guard Bronny James (6) controls the ball during the first half against the McDonald’s All American East at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Bronny himself could be the reason all of this will work out well for USC, for the James family, and for Enfield. The USC coach loves who Bronny is as a person. Unselfishness is what will enable everyone to be in harmony on the court:
“It’s so refreshing to see a young man deal with all the celebrity status of his dad but be such a humble young man,” Enfield said. “We recruited Bronny because we think he’s a great fit for our basketball program as a player and the type of person he is.”