“As soon as coach Enfield got the job, he emailed me,” Neff said. “He offered me the first day he got the job. I knew him when he was an assistant coach at Florida State. I went to a couple of their elite camps, and that’s where we met.”
Though he had a scholarship offer in place, Neff wanted to weigh his options before committing anywhere. He took visits to Georgia Tech and Florida, as well as other mid-major programs like North Florida, Jacksonville and Georgia Southern.
It wasn’t until more than a year later when Neff took Enfield up on that offer.
“Before I committed, which was, I think, Aug. 27, I went on my official visit, and a couple days later I called coach Andy and told him I was coming,” Neff said. “Whenever he first offered me, I was kind of interested, because I knew he was a good coach and I knew him personally, but I really didn’t know anything about (Florida Gulf Coast).”
Everyone who’s a fan of college basketball now knows about Florida Gulf Coast.
The first No. 15 seed to ever advance to the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament, the Eagles (26-10) are busting brackets as the latest Cinderella after beating second-seeded Georgetown and seventh-seeded San Diego State.
Neff’s ecstatic about his future team’s tournament run, and he loves the attention the university is now getting.
“I’m extremely excited to see what they’ve done,” he said. “It’s awesome. Now, everybody knows who they are, so it’s pretty cool. Everybody’s just congratulating me and talking to me about how they didn’t know who they were until when they beat Georgetown.
“Everybody is just surprised because they didn’t know who they were, so a lot of people are talking to me about it.”
Neff was in Savannah for an all-star game, so he didn’t get a chance to watch Florida Gulf Coast’s upset of Georgetown.
“I had practice that night,” he said. “During practice, our head coach got a call from his son, telling him that Florida Gulf Coast just beat Georgetown. Then, coach told me, and after practice, I had about 20 or so texts from friends telling me they won. It was crazy.”
Florida Gulf Coast will face No. 3 seed Florida (28-7) tonight in a South Regional semifinal at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Watching his future Eagles go up against the Gators is something Neff has no intention to miss.
“I’ll probably be at home with my family and then some friends will be over to watch the game,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll win (tonight) and make it to the Elite Eight, and we’ll just see what happens there.”
After making his college visits, Neff settled on Florida Gulf Coast for several reasons. The Eagles’ high-flying style — causing the area around the university’s Fort Myers campus to gain the label “Dunk City” — proved attractive.
“I liked the coaching staff and the playing style because I think I’ll fit in really well with the style they play,” the 6-foot-7 Neff said. “Of course, the campus is really nice.
“They also have pretty good guards that see the floor and throw lobs. I’m pretty athletic for a tall player. They have an open-floor style where they run the floor a lot. It’s a pretty athletic team.”