His Blood Is Worth Bottling
Senior Felix Von Hofe looks back at his record-breaking EWU basketball career
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In his final year with the team, senior Felix Von Hofe has become the winningest player in EWU’s NCAA Division I history, earning 80 wins during his time with EWU.
Not only that, the 6-foot-5-inch forward is currently sitting on 255 career 3-pointers. That is good for eighth in Big Sky Conference history and only five shy of the EWU record of 260, held by Tyler Harvey (2013-15).
As his college basketball career nears its end, Von Hofe has left his mark and is one of the best to ever play basketball at EWU.
Before coming to EWU, Von Hofe played high school basketball in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. He considered playing collegiately in the United States, but was also content with staying home and continuing basketball in local leagues within the paradise of Australia, Von Hofe said.
Eventually, he broke out of his comfort zone and gave it a go.
“Someone I knew that knew [head coach] Jim [Hayford] called,” said Von Hofe. “Next thing you know, I’m over here sitting in a dorm.”
Since then, the past four years have been a wild ride both on and off the court, creating plenty of opportunities for him after his college career.
“I’m the only one that remains from my freshman year,” said Von Hofe. “I remember looking back at my freshman year thinking, I can’t imagine playing on a team with anyone different than these guys. But now I look around and I’ve got the same feeling, if not better, and it’s entirely new faces, including some of the coaches.”
During his tenure at EWU, Von Hofe played with some of the best players in school history, from Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois, to Austin McBroom and now this year, Jake Wiley. Von Hofe watched the culture of the team grow into one cohesive unit, despite the turnover in players.
Now, as the only constant over the last few years, he attributes the growth in the team culture to the older guys coming as senior transfers, like McBroom and Wiley. Last year, McBroom played his senior year at EWU and this year, Wiley is doing the same as a fifth year senior.
“[Wiley] has to sort of mentor the younger guys,” said Von Hofe. “It’s hard to do that sometimes when you know you’re only going to be here for a year. But he’s been a full part of the family and is one of the biggest leaders on the team. Everyone looks up to him, including me.”
That feeling is mutual. Wiley has a lot of respect for Von Hofe and knew he wanted to play alongside the Aussie before even joining the team. During the senior day game in 2016, Wiley watched from the stands, enveloped in Von Hofe’s energy and the way he played the game.
“I looked over to my fiancée and said, ‘that guy, number 44, he’s got it,’” said Wiley. “He’s been the same dude ever since I’ve known him. Same passion and energy. He loves the game, he loves his teammates and he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
All of the energy that Von Hofe has on the court carries over off the court as well. Being a part of the community is big, and the relationships he built over the years are important to him.
“It’s all about the relationships I’ve built,” said Von Hofe. “Once you leave here, you forget about whether you won this game or you won that game, but you remember what you did off the court.”
The off-the-court interactions will leave lasting memories with Von Hofe, but they also have an impact on the court as well. He hopes to leave this attitude behind after his time at EWU has ended because he said he thinks it is important for his teammates to understand.
“If you play for Kentucky or something, people just come to your games,” said Von Hofe. “The people here, they don’t just come to the games because its Eastern basketball. It’s usually because there’s a connection to the team. So if you can embrace the community out here and socialize with as many people as you can, that’s how you fill the stands.”
Von Hofe wants to be looked back on as a guy who really impacted the culture of the program. He said he feels his time at EWU has prepared him and given him plenty of opportunities to succeed beyond college.
“I love to talk,” said Von Hofe with a smile. “I want to get into the entertainment industry somewhere. I wouldn’t mind having my own talk show one day, but then the only problem is I probably wouldn’t let anyone else speak.”
There are still options for him to play basketball back in Australia, and he will have to decide if he wants to go back home or move down to Los Angeles and chase a different path.
As for now, there is still playoff basketball to be played, and Von Hofe said he wants a second taste of the NCAA tournament before moving on. He has his eyes set on the conference tournament in Reno with the hopes of winning and advancing to the NCAA tournament.
If the team has a strong finish, Von Hofe said he will have gotten everything he could out of basketball when the season ends.
“It feels a lot like 2015, and you could probably say that’s because we’re winning a lot of games and so did that team,” said Von Hofe. “Maybe it is just being a senior and knowing this is the last group that I’ll play basketball with, that even if something was to happen in Reno and we didn’t do what we wanted to do, I think I’d still put this one down as my most enjoyable season.”
The Big Sky tournament begins for EWU on March 9 against No. 7 Sacramento State as EWU’s winningest player looks to lead the team to a championship to close out his Eagle career. Who knows, after that we just may see Von Hofe on TV one day talking someone’s ear off, either on the court or in a Hollywood studio.