Coming off of a senior season at Jacksonville’s Arlington Country Day School in 2005 during which he helped his team win a state championship, Brian Hoff had plenty of options for where he would play his college basketball.
Of those, which included full-ride scholarship offers to smaller programs, Hoff — the new boys basketball coach at Windermere Prep — instead rolled the dice and enrolled at Florida State University as walk-on.
“My dream was always to kind of play at the biggest school possible, and Florida State recruited me as a preferred walk-on,” Hoff recalled. “I always believed in myself, and I always bet on myself.”
That confidence manifested itself for Hoff in the form of a respectable career at FSU; he was named a captain for the Seminoles during his senior season in 2008-09. Since then, he has worked for the Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma State and as the associate head coach at the Providence School in Jacksonville.
“I’m pumped to be here — this is a special place. For me, (Windermere Prep) is a destination place.”
That experience and confidence now will be put to use for the program at Windermere Prep, which announced Hoff as the successor to Ben Wilson May 16.
“I’m pumped to be here — this is a special place,” Hoff said. “I was in a great situation (at Providence), and I always thought that it wasn’t going to be easy for me to leave. I was under one of the top coaches in the country, and it was going to take something big. For me, (Windermere Prep) is a destination place.”
In addition to his playing career at FSU and professional experience working in the NBA, Hoff has coached a number of dynamic players while at Providence School — including 23 Division I signees. Most notable among those alumni is Grayson Allen, a college star for the Duke Blue Devils who is expected to be selected in the NBA Draft June 21.
As for what that means for the Lakers, Hoff hopes it will help facilitate buy-in from his new roster.
“All of that stuff gives you credibility,” Hoff said.
In particular, the Lakers’ new head coach brings a background heavy in analytics to campus. His work as an intern for the Suns was organized around analytics. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean Windermere Prep will shoot as many 3-pointers as teams in the NBA — he emphasized that his system will be personnel-driven — it does mean the Lakers will be a well-prepared team every time they take the floor. Hoff said he envisions having a free-flowing system where his players are empowered to make decisions on the court.
“There is room for analytics, and there is room for your eyes … both are very important."
“There is room for analytics, and there is room for your eyes … both are very important,” Hoff said.
Hoff said he has gone right to work getting to know his new players, something the Lakers’ summer schedule should help facilitate. Coming from a program at Providence where he learned under head coach Jim Martin — a four-time Coach of the Year in Florida — and won two state championships, Hoff said he is aware of the possibilities at Windermere Prep.
“Ben Wilson and his staff did a remarkable job of building this program into what it is today,” Hoff said. “I’m thrilled to be able to be the guy to continue building.”