Its been six years since Florida basketball assistant coach Jordan Mincy has spent any significant amount of time in downtown Charleston.
But that doesn’t mean that Mincy, who was an assistant coach at College of Charleston during the 2012-13 season, hasn’t missed the Lowcountry, especially the area cuisine.
Mincy’s first stop when Florida arrived Tuesday night for this week’s Charleston Classic basketball tournament was the short walk from the Gators downtown hotel to Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar on East Bay Street.
“That’s one of my favorite restaurants anywhere,” Mincy said. “Charleston has some of the best seafood in the country. My wife took me there on my birthday when we lived here, and I can’t wait to go back down there. That’s number one on our list while we’re in town.”
The Gators (2-2) will face Saint Joseph’s (2-2) at 2 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the three-day tournament at College of Charleston’s TD Arena.
Although Mincy spent just a year with the Cougars, he still has fond memories of his time with the program and the city.
“I think you remember the people you met here and the life-long friendships you made,” said Mincy, who joined the Gators coaching staff in 2015 along with head coach Mike White. “We’ve stayed close with the people in Charleston and the guys that were on that team.”
It was Doug Wojcik’s first season as Charleston’s head coach and the Cougars went 24-11, making it to the finals of the Southern Conference basketball tournament and beating nationally-ranked Baylor on the road. Davidson beat the Cougars, 74-55, in the championship game.
“We had a great year; not many teams win 24 games, and we were one win away from getting to the NCAA Tournament,” Mincy said. “Davidson was a great team; they just had our number. The win at Baylor was a surreal moment for the team and the coaching staff. Anytime a mid-major can get a road win against Power 5 school, it’s special.”
Mincy said his season under Wojcik, who works as the recruiting coordinator for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, taught him about preparation and attention to detail.
“To this day, I tell people that there’s no better coach in breaking down the dynamics of another than coach Wojcik,” Mincy said. “He’s one of the best at pre-game preparations. He wanted you as an assistant coach to think outside the box. He made me look at the game from a different perspective. He was demanding and he challenged us as assistants, but it was fun and I loved it and learned so much. Coach would tell them that attention to detail in the final four minutes wins or loses most games. He wanted to make sure you were in the opposing coach’s head. He wanted you to think like they did so you’d know what to expect.”
During his one season with the Cougars, he developed a strong bond with a freshman guard – Canyon Barry. After Barry graduated from College of Charleston, he had a year of eligibility remaining and decided to transfer to Florida in 2016. Barry helped lead the Gators to the NCAA Tournament where they eventually fell to South Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Barry had been pursued by other Power 5 schools, including Louisville, Kansas and Northwestern, but his previous relationship with Mincy helped the Gators cause.
“He had a friend that was going to Northwestern, so we were a little nervous,” Mincy said. “He had a great season and was really a big part of getting us to the Elite Eight. Seeing him develop from a skinny freshman that was a heavy, right-handed player to his senior year with us was great to see. He was a rock on that team.”
Barry is currently playing the NBA’s G League with the Iowa Wolves.
Losing to the Gamecocks that season was bittersweet for Mincy. His first coaching job after graduating from Kent State was with the Gamecocks as a graduate assistant under former USC head coach Darrin Horn.
“You’re sad for your guys because we were one step away from the Final Four,” Mincy said. “But, having spent time in Columbia, I understood what that game meant to the state of South Carolina and that program. I was happy for South Carolina coach (Frank) Martin. The state really rallied behind them.”
The Gators come into the tournament 2-2, still searching for an identity.
“It’s early, so we’re like a lot of teams and still trying to figure things out,” Mincy said.
Reach Andrew Miller at 843-937-5599. Follow him on Twitter @APMILLER_PandC