Eric Leider: Las Vegas hoopster is no one trick pony—he has game on and off the court

Posted on June 26, 2008. Filed under: High School Basketball | Tags: |

By Will Cummings
Hit News @ Hit 

   Eric Leider Cover
 Las Vegas HS starting point guard and Class Valedictorian, Eric Leider, heads to the East Coast in pursuit of his dreams.


    Eric Leider, a 5′ 10″ 165lb point guard out of Las Vegas, Nevada Cheyenne High school, is the kind of young man that is the epitome of student athletic achievement that we wish all students would dare to emulate.

“I am the only white kid on the team.”

     I had the immense pleasure of conversing with this young man as a result of his request for Hit Highlights to produce his highlight DVD.  During our initial phone conversation, the modest young man mentioned,

 Do you think you will have any trouble identifying me on film? I’m the only white kid on the team.”

And that was about the extent of any further information that Eric provided in regards to his accomplishments. However,  in the process of  verifying Eric Leider’s information, we found out that not only was Eric  “the only white kid on the team,” he was  also a very good basketball player and the starting point guard for the Desert Shields basketball team—a team that was the 2008 Nevada Class 4A State basketball runner-up.

Class Valedictorian

    Our enthusiasm was just getting peaked, before, upon further discovery, we stumbled upon Eric’s most impressive accomplishment:  Eric Leider was Cheyenne High School’s Class Valedictorian. For folks that do not know what that means: Eric had the highest grade point average among his graduating class of 428 students. Eric had a high school career 4.0-unweighted- grade point average while taking 19 honors classes. Eric was honored for his scholastic and athletic achievements by receiving the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Associations Top Ten Student-Athletes of the Year award.

Secrets to Eric’s Success

    After learning this information about Eric’s academic excellence, the first thing that I asked Eric was:

What motivated you to achieve such high marks in school?” 

The answer to my question was found through the following information that Eric provided during our subsequent conversations:

    Eric is from a modest home where his father, Ira (originally from New York City), works as a dealer for one of the local casinos and his mother, Lidia, works in retail. Eric sees both his father and his mother as his heroes, “They are the ones who supported me in sports and encouraged me in my school work.” Moreover, Eric’s older brother, Jeffery, played a hand in helping Eric to excel in the classroom and on the court.

   “He [Jeffery] would always get me up and made sure I was studying. And he’d get me up to go work out or to go play basketball with him,”  Eric said. Eric went on to explain how Jeffery always kept telling  him how important it was to get grades in order to attend the top colleges.  Jeffery Leider, two years older than Eric, was a also a hoopster at Cheyenne high school and is currently attending Baruch College (located in New York City), while he attempts to make a an American Basketball Association (ABA) team.

Choosing the Right Friends

    All the great family support and good intentions in the world can be easily destroyed through the wrong types of peer influences. Fortunately, Eric had this base covered too. Outside the home, Eric mentioned his friend and teammate, Christian Lightbourne, as being a very positive influence in his pursuit of academic excellence and staying on the straight and narrow path. Eric exhorted, “We have known and played ball together since we were freshmen.  We would always challenge each other in school to get the top grades.” Eric was not only fortunate enough to be blessed with such a family, he also was wise enough to befriend the right kind of peers.

Pursuing His Dreams 

    Eric will continue to pursue his scholastic and athletic interest by attending The Gunnery, which is a prestigious private college preparatory school located in Washington, Connecticut. The Gunnery will provide the opportunity for Eric to enhance his resume and to improve his SAT and admission scores so that he will be able to attend any prestigious institution of his choosing.

Undaunted By Disappointment

    Unfortunately, Eric, who plans to pursue a major in business, learned the hard way that despite achieving only straight A’s all throughout his high school career and being his schools valedictorian, and a three year letterman in both cross country and in basketball that his resume was not impressive enough nor were his test scores and admission scores high enough for him to gain admission into some of the most prestigious schools in the country.

   Eric faced dissapointments while attempting to gain admissions to Harvard University and to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Both schools are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and they rank amongst the top most highly regarded educational institutions in the world.  Accordingly, gaining admittance to either one of these schools is exceedingly difficult to say the least.

   Both Harvard and MIT are interested in Eric as a non-scholarship basketball player; however,  he did not score high enough to gain admission to the prestigious universities.  Undaunted, Eric pursued his current course.

    The Gunnery first came to Eric’s attention last summer, while he attended a summer basketball camp. One of the camp’s coaches informed Eric about The Gunnery’s post graduate program, and they also told him that they would be interested in having him on their basketball team.

The Overachiever

    Eric is the supreme example of the classic overachiever who will pursuit a goal with unmitigated passion and a relentless drive in order to complete the mission—regardless of any shortcomings or any of the naysayers around him.  Eric has already proven as much: 

    A child rising from a modest but loving and supportive family background, Eric achieved his high school’s graduating class’ highest career grade point average to become class valedictorian.   Standing barely 5′ 10″ and not blessed with overwhelming raw athleticism and or size, “the only white kid on the team” worked his way to becoming the team’s starting point guard. As a floor general , he helped to lead his team to a state championship game—a game they lost by four points, while playing without one of their star players, due to an injury the star received during the previous semi-final game.”

Eric the Basketball Player

    On the basketball court, Eric makes up for any of his shortcomings through his outstanding court generalship—Eric has a complete feel for the game.  And it is obvious from watching Eric and his teammates play that their head coach, Teral Fair, has done an excellent job in instructing his pupils on how to play his aggressive style of ball.

    Eric is an admirer of Steve Nash and Jason Williams and you can tell from his game that he incorporates a little of each into his style of play. He is an adept and often flashy passer, and on a pull-up or a catch-and-shoot he can drain the three.  Eric will finish a drive to the hoop with a dynamic twisting layup or by timely dishing off a laser-like pass to one of his teammates. On defense, he is tenacious and always focused to pick his opponents pockets.

    While Eric is on the floor, it seems as though he is always in the mix of making something happen: a steal, a pass, a block, a shot; or whipping a pinpoint three quarter length-of-the-court pass in perfect stride to a player on a fast break—clearly the kid loves the game! Moreover, he is surely no one trick pony—If he does not get you on the court he will most definitely beat you in the classroom.

So Eric, what’s it like being; “…the only white kid on the team?”

    Since Eric brought it up, I could not resist but to ask Eric the question.  Eric replied by explaining that his father’s friend had an all black team that he sent Eric to play on during his middle school years. Therefore, he said that it was “no big deal” to him. He said that his high school, which is located in North Las Vegas, has an ethnically diverse student body (approximately 2500 students). Eric estimates that the ethnic makeup is about 30% White; 30% Black; and 30% Latino.

“Besides, they knew I could play so no one messed with me,” Eric said,

    Eric, It has been a pleasure!

   Your academic accomplishments are outstanding and your play and passion for the game of basketball are inspirational. We wish you luck and we look forward to following your future academic, athletic and professional career successes.

   We also thank your family and friends and anyone else you may have failed to mention for helping you towards achieving your accomplishments.

   Any college that gives you an opportunity to play basketball for them is guarnteed to get a player that will always give 100% effort and who will always keep fighting to win.”

Below: Watch Eric Leider’s highlights:


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  • my Hit

    Nebraska High Schoolhoops7Top 25 Prospects '08/'09

    By Action Force


    Sponsor: Hit Highlights Inc.

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