Senior guard for the Montclair State University men’s basketball team Akbar Hoffman has come a long way in his basketball journey. He has proven time and time again that he is the go-to man for this team if they want to succeed.
Hoffman grew up on the north side of Newark, New Jersey and attended East Side High School. While playing on the varsity basketball team for only three years, he was able to develop his ability to score. Averaging only two points per game as a freshman in high school, Hoffman lifted his stats to eight points, three rebounds and one assist per game.
Currently, Hoffman is a general humanities and social science major at Montclair State. Before he could start his basketball career here, Hoffman went to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. He believed he didn’t have a successful future there.
“There really wasn’t much over there for me,” Hoffman said. “My old coach decided that I should come check out the Montclair State campus. If I knew about this school before, I would’ve came here as a freshman.”
His first season as a Red Hawk demonstrated the impact he would have on the team. Hoffman led the team in points, field goals, three pointers, steals and minutes per game. Even though his averages went down a bit this season, he still is atop the leaders in scoring, field goals and three-pointers.
As the newly hired coach spending his first season with the team, head coach Justin Potts gave high praise for his guard.
“I think he’s a really talented individual,” Potts said. “He’s got a lot of ability, he can just score the basketball. I personally think the best thing for him is he’s just grown as a player during the season.”
Potts went on to describe the improvements Hoffman has shown, most of which are making him the best player he can be.
“Early on, as he tried to learn the system and how we wanted him to play, he needed to adjust to some things,” Potts said. “I give him credit because he’s worked hard and made improvements, while I try and coach him the best I can. I wanted him to grow and develop into areas that could help us as a team and I think he’s done that. With a couple of games to go, there’s a little more room to grow, but he’s definitely been an integral part and he’s been fun to coach.”
The main reason Hoffman started to play basketball is due to the fact that he grew up in a “sports” family.
“My dad used to box, my mom ran track [and] my brother plays football, so I decided to go my own route and play basketball for better opportunities and to do great things,” Hoffman said.
The people that inspired him the most to play basketball were his dad and brothers. Hoffman described that they were always 100% supportive and that they loved the way he played the game.
“It’s all love here,” Hoffman said. “What made me want to come here was for a better education and the family we have. Everyone in the community, the coaching staff, the players, it just felt like I was at home. When I got the offer, or even the chance to look at the school, I loved it. People would take this [basketball] opportunity for granted and see it as just an extra activity to do.”
Teammate and friend Keyon Pryce, a freshman guard, is encouraged by how well Hoffman is able push him to his boundaries.
“He’s come a long way,” Pryce said. “Knowing what I am capable of, he tells me to go harder so I can be pushed to the max. He’s on top of my list for best teammate I’ve ever played with. His contribution to this team is incredible and he scores the ball like I’ve never seen.”
Hoffman put on a scoring display in arguably his best game played back in late November. He was on fire, dropping 41 points on the William Paterson University Pioneers, while shooting 9-16 behind the arc.
It was not just his performance that stood out, it was also the game-winning shot he hit in overtime to defeat the Pioneers. Fading away on top of the key with three defenders in the way as the buzzer sounded, Hoffman threw up the prayer and got it to fall. Not only was he the hero of the game, SportsCenter put him number seven on their top 10 plays of the week.
Off the court, Hoffman likes to be considered a “to himself” guy. His introverted personality makes him want to take things one step at a time. He is looked to as a respectable leader to the guys in the locker room because of his devotion to basketball.
With a few games left in his college career, Hoffman hopes to keep this impressive stride going.