Stout brings blue-collar mentality to EHS team

By Allen LaMountain

   On every successful basketball squad, you have to have the guys willing to do what Dennis Rodman described as the "dirty work." Getting after it defensively and hitting the boards are the things that describe "the dirty work."
   Those are the things that Cyclone senior post Eric Stout excels at doing, and is a big part of the reason 'Betsy is having the kind of success that they are enjoying this season.
   "His concept of hard work really embraces the blue-collar mentality of hard work," said Cyclone head coach Tony Hardin. "Doing the little things is what made him a good player, and that's how he leads the team."
   Stout, who started as a guard as a freshman, has played post for two seasons now and started getting serious playing time as a junior.
   Stout credits former Cyclone standouts like Andy Curtis and Jason Deloney for helping him in his development, saying: "They showed me a lot about how you are supposed to act as a senior. Jason came in here as a junior and was a great player his senior year, and I learned from him how to step up and do what a senior is supposed to do."
   A lesson Stout has learned well, as he is currently ranked second on the Cyclones in rebounding with 116 boards -- a 5.5 per game average -- and has scored at an 8.5 per game clip.
   In addition to that, Stout is one of the quickest, toughest defensive players the Cyclones have, and this is a squad that preaches defense first.
   Stout is capable of shutting down the opposition's inside game, and that helps free up junior center Vince Redd for some of the heroics he has shown this season.
   A 23-point explosion by Stout enabled the Cyclones to dominate the Sullivan North Golden Raiders and showed the kind of scoring punch that Stout can bring on any given night.
   On that night, 'Betsy rolled to a 30-point win over a team many considered to be among the top squads in the Watauga Conference, with Stout shooting 10-of-14 from the floor.
   Stout was a force on the boards as well, cleaning the glass for nine of 'Betsy's 38 rebounds on the evening.
   "Eric sets an example for the young guys to follow, and is a huge part of why we have had success this season." said Hardin.
   In describing his own play, Stout said: "I'd say that 'blue collar' is a pretty good take on who I am. I don't have anything that stands out (in my game), but I just come to play hard every day and do the dirty work."
   Stout is the son of Amona and Sam Stout and says he plans to go to college when he graduates from EHS this spring. He is hopeful of someone taking notice of his play and offering him a scholarship.
   "If I got an opportunity to play in college and help my parents out money-wise, I would have to consider it," said Stout. "But right now my focus is just to get my education and concentrate on that."
   Stout's dad was a great influence on him growing up.
   "My dad was always there to play ball with me since I was little and give me encouragement," Stout said.
   For now though Stout's focus is on helping Elizabethton finish with an unbeaten record in conference play and get them as far into the 2-A tournament as possible.
   "I'm glad we made the move to 2-A because we are playing schools our own size now," said Stout. "It was great to get to compete against the Science Hill's and D-B, but that would hurt us at tournament time.
   "It was great experience to play against those kinds of programs, but now at 2-A the sky's the limit as to where this team can end up."
   Coach Hardin is hopeful that younger players like Adam Turley and others can take a queue from Stout, the way Stout did from Deloney and Curtis and take their game to another level.
   "The hope is that the young guys can take something away from the example guys like Stout leave them," Hardin said. "The concepts of playing hard, rebounding and playing good defense, and Stout has done that.
   "And that mentality will lead into the young kids following that example, and in that way the program can continue to be strong year after year."