Wood River High School has a new boys’ varsity basketball coach. He is 25-year-old Eli Stein from Memphis, Tenn.
This will be Stein’s first head coaching job. He will also be employed by the Blaine County School District as athletic director at Wood River Middle School.
Stein has never visited Idaho, but said he is looking forward to his new home.
Wood River High athletic and activities director Kevin Stilling introduced Stein to current players and parents on Tuesday, June 16 during a video conference call.
“He thrilled our committee. We’re super stoked to have him,” Stilling said.
Stein attended Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, an 800-student private elementary and secondary school comprised of approximately 33% foreign national students from 55 nations.
Lausanne Collegiate has produced National Basketball Association players like Marc Gasol of Barcelona, Spain and the NBA Toronto Raptors, Tennessean Cameron Payne from Murray State University, Skal Labissiere from Haiti and the Atlanta Hawks and 2020 prospect Moussa Cisse, a 6-11 center from Memphis.
Stein played shooting guard for Lausanne Collegiate basketball, and was a four-year starter for the varsity soccer team.
He mainly served as the Lausanne basketball team manager—a job he also had when he attended college from 2016-19 at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. and in 2019-20 at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.
At VMI last year, Stein was the assistant director of operations for men’s basketball. He graduated from Campbell University in 2019 and will be pursuing his teaching credentials in Hailey.
Stein said that Kenneth White, his head basketball coach at Lausanne, played basketball at the University of North Carolina. Stein said, “I learned a lot under him. I moved toward managing because I wanted to get into coaching. I also worked for coach White at Campbell.”
The new Hailey coach said during Tuesday’s conference call that he expects his players to be committed and teachable.
In the near future, he said he will be hiring junior varsity and freshman coaches to complete the 2020-21 Hailey hoops staff.
Stein said, “I’m a positive and enthusiastic person.”
He added, “I want to make sure our players have as much fun as possible, and that they learn the game of basketball, be together like a family and reach their full potential, but I also want to win. There is no reason we can’t turn this into a winning program.
“I come from a Princeton background with motion-based concepts—a lot of cutting and moving, and a lot of running and gunning. Our defense will be tough and gritty, with 1-2-2 or match-up zones, and we will press. We’ll need to get after teams.”
Academics are important, Stein said. “With me, you’ll get a teacher in life lessons.”
Stein replaces John Radford, who stepped down after 11 years of coaching in the Wood River program. Radford was assistant coach to Fred Trenkle from 2002-06, and head varsity hoops coach for five winters from 2006-11.
Radford returned for three seasons from 2017-2020, compiling successive records of 7-18, 5-19 and 11-13 while coaching his son Johnny Radford. Johnny finished as the school’s all-time career scorer (1,393 points) and single-season king (597).