Eric Stutz is a 23 year old 203cm forward from Newburgh, Indiana playing his rookie season with Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-Eredivisie). He played at E.Kentucky (NCAA) from 2011-2015 playing a total of 127 NCAA games winning the OVC tournament in 2014 and as a senior played 31 games averaging 15.5ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 63.2%, 3PT: 47.1%, FT: 79.8%. He spoke to German Hoops last week before the Fiba Europe cup game against the Fraport Skyliners.
Eric thanks for talking to German Hoops You are a rookie playing your first season in Holland with Leiden. You said that you wanted to play for a team that was near the water. You got your wish. Was not having a big body of water in Indiana something that led you to this craving?
In regards to being by water I just love the peacefulness of it. I really wanted to be able to do yoga and meditate by the ocean so that was really the main reason why.
In your first two games you are averaging 13,0ppg and 5,0rpg. What has been the biggest adjustment for you coming from the NCAA to the European style of play?
The biggest adjustment has been the pace of the game. We were a team in college that took the whole 35 seconds most possessions so playing quicker was an adjustment.
A few years ago Leiden won 4 titles in a span of a few years. Is the urge to win hardware something that you are feeling this season?
I know Leiden has a strong fan base and reputation of being a top team so I think each year there is an urge to win the championship.
Leiden is 2-0 so far and have beaten Rotterdam and Leeuwarden. The team is averaging 85 points per game and is giving up 60 points. How quickly has the team chemistry developed so far?
The team chemistry has developed quickly which is somewhat of a surprise because out game against Rotterdam was the first time we had everyone plying together.
Do you feel that Leiden will be able to be a strong consistent defensive team this season?
I believe we can be a strong defensive team. Playing team defense is important to us so we just try and work as one on the defensive side
What is your role on the team?
Its early to know what my role will be so I will just continue playing hard and playing my game
Kansas head coach Bill Self said that you were one of the best big man passers in the NCAA last season. To what NBA forward have you enjoyed watching their passing excellence growing up?
I was never much of a fan of the NBA so I think my passing came from having my dad as my coach when I was young. He wanted me to get other players involved so I learned not to be selfish at a young age. In college there was another big man on our team named Jeff Johnson who was an outstanding passer so I learned a lot from him.
You are an unselfish player and team player but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
I think my speed on fast breaks is a hidden strength
There are some very experienced Dutch players on the team, but you are one of two Americans. Do you see yourself being a main team leader this season?
We have a couple of Dutch national team players and some older guys so I just want to learn everything I can from them
What kind of experience has it been playing for experienced Eddy Castells? How is his teaching different than Jeff Neubauer?
Both coaches pay great attention to detail but I’ve only been with coach Casteels a short time so it’s too early to know
Mohamed Kherrazi is one of the more flashy players on the team. What have you learned to appreciate most about his game and what is the most amazing thing that you have seen him do in practice?
Mohammed plays hard all the time and is always encouraging. He’s a great leader and someone I can learn a lot about basketball from
Deron Scott is only averaging 7,0ppg and 3,0rpg and 2,5apg. Do you see him heightening his game more as the season progresses?
Deron is very talented so I believe he will heighten his game. He showed what kind of player he can be in the preseason already.
How excited are you to playing international club basketball? What place would you really like to see in Europe most?
It’s always been a dream of mine to play professionally so being able to travel and play the game I love is perfect. Greece would be a great place to visit but I would love to see the 7 wonders of the world so the would take me out of europe
Your first game will be in Germany against the Fraport Skyliners. What do you know about Germany and its basketball? Ex E.Kentucky (NCAA) players like Alonzo Hird and Josh Taylor have played in Germany. And your teammate Timmy Knipp plays for The Bayer Giants Leverkusen
I really know nothing about basketball Germany. Me and Timmy have talked quite a bit but we dont discuss basketball all that much.
You played four years at E.Kentucky (NCAA) and was deemed the most interesting man in Kentucky college basketball. What will you have to do to up that a little and be called the most interesting man in Dutch professional basketball?
I dont think I need to do anything. Being the most interesting man in Kentucky college basketball was never something I planned on becoming so its up to the people here on what they think of me, but I an not going to change who I am.
You have 30 headbands from Christmas to Halloween themes. What is your favorite?
My favorite headband is a tie dye headband that says peace and love. I wore for some NCAA interviews so it has a special meaning to me
How did Jeff Neubauer prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career?
Well coach Neubauer left at the end of my senior year so I didnt really have a chance to discuss professional basketball with him much. During my time there he was always focused on the present so that never really came up
Who was the best player that you played at the college level that is in the NBA or Europe now?
The best player now is probably Andrew Wiggins. His athleticism was exceptional so seeing that first hand was an experience.
What was the most amazing thing that you saw Corey Walden do on the court? Do you think he will be able to stick with Boston?
Corey was a great all around player who could be everywhere on defense. The way Timmy Corey and me all played together was very special. I think he will be successful if he continues to work hard and it’s great to see a teammate and friend succeed at getting to the highest level.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Deverin Muff?
Muff and i never played a real one on one game. But if it was strictly on the post then he would win but if it was on the perimeter playing i have a better shot at winning
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
I’m not a big Lebron James fan but I also dont care too much about MJ. There will always be arguments about it so I would rather just stay out of it. They are both all time greats but no one will ever really know whose better. They played in two completely different eras so comparing them cant be done
What was the last movie that you saw?
T he last movie i saw was furious 7 on my way over to Holland from the states.
Thanks Eric for the chat.