The Daily Hoosier caught up with Silver Creek High School (Sellersburg, Ind.) head coach Brandon Hoffman to discuss Hoosier basketball recruiting target and Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year Trey Kaufman. Our Q&A with Coach Hoffman is below.
Hoffman led Silver Creek to the Class 3A state title in 2019, and the Dragons were the favorite to repeat in 2020 before the state tournament was canceled.
TDH: Whether on the court or off, what are the one or two things that first come to mind when you think of Trey?
Coach Hoffman: He has very high standards for himself. And that is in all areas. His work ethic is at an extremely high standard. His attention to detail on skill improvement, and also in the classroom, he’s No. 1 in the classroom. He has very high standards for himself, and he’s very competitive.
TDH: Do you have any sense for where that drive comes from? What fuels his fire?
Coach Hoffman: His family. His family is a very competitive family. Whether it’s playing whiffle ball in the back yard or having an argument about who the best player of all time is, his family is very competitive. All of them were very competitive and all of them were great academically. That was instilled in him at a very early age.
TDH: How has Kaufman been so successful at evolving his game from a back to the basket five to playing comfortably out on the perimeter?
Coach Hoffman: I think one of the things that makes Trey really good is that he likes to attack his weaknesses. If he’s told that he doesn’t shoot it well, he’s going to get 1,000 shots up a day. If he’s told he’s not athletic enough, then he’s working on his athleticism. He’s really good at taking constructive criticism and attacking that and making it a strength. If you tell him he can’t do something he’s going to do it.
What makes him such a recruiting target for everybody is that he can do everything. He handles the ball like a guard. He passes like a guard. His back to the basket game is really good. His face up game is really good. He’s tried to improve any weakness that he’s had in his game.
TDH: Trey describes himself as in introvert but obviously he can still be a leader. In what ways is a Trey a leader on the court?
Coach Hoffman: The best leaders are the ones that can lead by example too. He’s in the gym before everybody. He’s in the gym after everybody. If your best players aren’t working the hardest then everybody is going to follow that. He’s working the hardest. He’s not a super outgoing person, but once you get to know him he’s super comfortable talking to his teammates.
TDH: Trey has a couple teammates that will likely play Division One college basketball. How is his interaction with his more talented teammates?
(Note: This question is reference to Silver Creek junior forward Kooper Jacobi and sophomore point guard Branden Northern)
Him and Kooper have played travel basketball since they were ten years old. They’ve probably played 1,000 games together. They know each other real well on the court, they’re really good friends off the court. Both of them are very similar, they have high standards and their work ethics are similar. Their academics are similar. They are a really good combination and have a lot of respect for each other.
Branden is a year younger than those guys but he has high standards too. Trey had a really good year working along with him this year. Branden had an excellent year for us and I think next year he’ll be even better.
TDH: What are the one or two things that you think Trey could do as a senior to take his game to the next level?
Coach Hoffman: He’s already really good at everything, but can he get 10 percent better at everything? I know he’s working on his athleticism. His lateral quickness and his jumping ability. That’s going to take him to another level. I know he’s really working hard on that.
The difference between his sophomore and junior year is that he became so much more dominant and hungry, and I think he has to be able to continue to do that.
If you look at his numbers they were just off the charts efficient, so we’re kind of nitpicking. We put him in a bunch of different situations. He handles the ball for us sometimes, we set ball screens for him even though he’s 6-foot-9, he plays back to the basket. He’s a hard matchup, and I think he just continues to work on those skills to where no matter who is guarding him he has a way to score on them.
(NOTE: Kaufman averaged 25.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per contest as a junior. He helped lead the Dragons to a 25-2 mark before the season was interrupted. The 6-foot-9 Kaufman shot 64 percent from the floor overall, including 40 percent from three-point range.)
TDH: Have you been able to process the loss of your chance to repeat as state champions (due to the cancellation of the season) and move on to next season?
Coach Hoffman: I don’t think we’ll ever be happy about it but in the grand scheme of things it was the right thing to do. Luckily for us we have most everyone back. We have all of our starters back. We’re going to use next year as a continuation of this year.
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