Boonevile's Kenny Paul Geno knows all about NCAA’s upstarts

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

Kenny Paul Geno’s first impression of Florida Gulf Coast: it’s a long way from home. But with the NCAA Tournament darlings now in the Sweet 16, a lot of people’s impressions of FGCU are changing.
The Fort Myers, Fla., school has yet to offer the Booneville senior, but made first contact with him a few days before beating No. 2 seed Georgetown in their opening tournament game.
The 11-year-old program is in only its second year of postseason eligibility.
“It’s pretty neat they’re already to that level and that’s sort of how we play at Booneville, up-tempo, (alley) oops…” Geno said. “I like how they play. It’s what I’m used to and I like their emotion.”
The “Dunk City” Eagles blasted their way through the Hoyas and San Diego State thanks to their free-styling, above-the-rim play.
That’s the same reputation Geno developed, as an energetic 6-foot-6 dunker with a jump shot and a rebounding prowess.
Geno actually saw FGCU play this season. On an unofficial visit to Mercer on Jan. 2, Mercer beat the Eagles in overtime.
Geno says he would consider a visit, but says despite the success and current fame, the nearly 700 miles from Booneville is tough to overlook.
“I could tell they were pretty good. They’ve got a lot of talent and athleticism all over,” he said.
Georgia is making regular contact with Geno and Middle Tennessee State is getting more involved. A visit to Jacksonville State is planned for next week.
Mercer, Jacksonville State, Lamar, Radford, Union and Delta State have officially offered. Florida Gulf Coast is on an interest list that also includes New Orleans, Troy, South Alabama, Mississippi State, Belhaven, Blue Mountain and the state’s junior colleges.
FGCU is becoming known for more than basketball, namely its coach, Andy Enfield and his supermodel wife, Amanda Marcum. Enfield, 43, made plenty of retirement money when he co-founded a health care-related retirement company in his 30s before leaving Wall Street to chase a coaching dream.
That won’t play into Geno’s decision, but sometimes it’s all about location, location, location.
“The campus is on a beach, so that’s pretty neat,” Geno said.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com