Enfield finds the best West Coast man

Tony Bland / Getty

In two years as an assistant at San Diego State Tony Bland quickly became known as one of the best recruiters on the West Coast. Now he joins Andy Enfield at USC and will work to blow up what he calls a gold mine in Los Angeles…

Tony Bland has quickly become one of the hottest assistant coaching names on the west coast and now he's the latest name to join Andy Enfield's staff at USC.

"It's a good situation," Bland told FOX Sports NEXT on the telephone. "I'm excited."

Rumors first started swirling about the second year San Diego State assistant to USC on Saturday, as an unofficial coaches convention descended in Atlanta at the Final Four. But it took Bland until days later to decide USC was in fact the next step he wanted to take.

A former player and graduate of San Diego State, Bland said the decision to leave the Aztecs weighed heavily on his mind. "It was very hard for me to leave my family and the fans behind at San Diego State," he said. "It was not an easy decision."

Bland, 31, will become Enfield's Associate Head Coach and will most likely lead the recruiting efforts for the Trojans on the West Coast.

While at San Diego State he was responsible for the recruitment of Winston Shepard, a 2012 four-star power forward played in 31 of 34 games for the top-25 Aztecs this season. Bland also recruited 2013 four-star small forward Dakarai Allen to San Diego State.

Asked how he was able to land high-profile players at the mid-major level, Bland deflected -- giving credit to the university and its head coach. "It was easy to sell Coach [Steve] Fisher," Bland said. "The San Diego State fans are amazing and Coach Fisher is a legend… It's like I was in the desert trying to sell water."

But he knows the scene at USC, a traditional football school that only reveled in basketball success a few short years ending in 2009, is a little different.

"We're going to work at it," Bland said. "We're going to get better and better. If we win people will come out and support us."

Unlike most of the nation including USC athletic director Pat Haden, Bland was aware of Enfield and his coaching abilities long before Enfield's Florida Gulf Coast team made its historic run to the Sweet 16. "I'm a big basketball guy so I was remembering him from shooting clinics," Bland said.

Bland called the USC basketball program a "gold mine waiting to blow up."

There's no doubt in his mind Enfield will be the coach to do it. "He's such a motivator and so optimistic," Bland said. "You think positive things and they will come."

Kids love the way he plays. He wants to get up and down."

Though he knew of Enfield before, Bland became very aware of the former-Florida Gulf Coast coach's tactics just a couple of weeks ago, when No. 7 seed San Diego State took on Enfield's No. 15 seeded FGCU in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

"I was surprised [they made the run] until we had to prepare to play him," Bland admitted. "I was like what is this team doing? Then I watched their warmups and was like ‘Wow, this team is legit'."

So legit in fact that No. 15 FGCU ended No. 7 San Diego State's season in round two, to become the first No. 15 to ever play in the Sweet Sixteen.

"I'm very excited and I believe in Coach Enfield's philosophy," Bland said. "USC is bringing in the best guy and he's trying to put together the best staff. "I believe in what he's doing and if we can get everyone else to believe… we can do it."

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