It’s been a long wait for Piedmont senior basketball player Ben Eck, but the wait has been worth the time.
Relegated to a reserve role his first two seasons at PHS where many of his practices were spent separate from the varsity, and then, as a junior, playing in only seven varsity games, Eck wasn’t sure his time would ever come.
But it has.
Eck is Piedmont’s best 3-point shooter at better than 40 percent from there this season, and one of the Wildcats top scoring options off the bench.
For head coach Troy Lallemand, the contributions haven’t come as a total surprise. When the coach first arrived in Piedmont nearly two years ago, he saw Eck’s potential.
“I saw something there in him that I don’t even know if he saw at the time,” Lallemand said.
Eck has always had a smooth shot. What he hasn’t always had, is confidence to shoot it or in his ability to play defense.
“Coach has instilled a lot of confidence in me,” Eck said. “Every day he comes around and tells me, ‘keep shooting, keep shooting.'”
Building Eck’s confidence started long before this season.
“The first day he was here we had a camp, he came by and said, ‘you can shoot, what grade are you in?’ That gave me a lot of confidence because somebody noticed,” said Eck.
It hasn’t come all at once, but now Eck is hardly afraid to pull the trigger. He made 5 of his 10 3-point attempts in an upset win over Chickasha and scored 18 points in Piedmont’s season opening game at El Reno.
“Some people need that big game to feel like they belong and I feel like that was it for him,” Lallemand said.
The senior is a nice blend of consistency — he’s made more 3-pointers than anyone on the team — but also has the ability to get hot and make three, four or maybe five deep shots in a row. It’s hard to mistake Eck’s confidence when he’s on a roll, which is quite the contrast from just last season.
“When I hit the first one I just want to get the ball and keep shooting it,” Eck said.
Lallemand compared his hot streaks to the popular 90s video game, ‘NBA Jam.’
“If the first one goes in, it’s going to be a good night. It’s amazing how hot he can get,” Lallemand said. “It’s like old video game ‘NBA Jam’, he’s getting on fire or whatever. You can just see it and guys know that and get him the ball.”
Interestingly, Eck has no desire for one thing most players normally would — starting. Eck hasn’t started a game this season and doesn’t plan to going forward. The opportunity has been offered by the coaching staff, but he prefers to be a sub because he plays better as one.
Lallemand says it speaks to Eck’s unselfish nature.
“He’s just a team player. He knows that it’s his best role and he feels comfortable with that,” he said. “It’s amazing in a society where everything is kind of about me first and starting…It’s refreshing to see a guy that’s OK with coming off the bench and serving my team.”
Eck, who considered quitting after his junior season, couldn’t be happier he stuck it out and hopes the season lasts as long as possible.
“I’m hoping we make it to the state championship, or at least the state playoffs,” he said.