Beyond the Court: Erik Johannson
A native of Sweden, Johansson, a 6’5 SG, is now playing Division 1 basketball on a scholarship at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. We recently got the chance to catch up with him. Erik was a player that was recruited last summer by Basket Eastern Talents and now is living his dream as an NCAA student-athlete.
Erik will remain in California for the summer to improve his game and will probably visit with Elite Euro Talent in July to share his experience, knowledge, and to most importantly pass along some tips to the camp participants.
Q. Basket Eastern Talents helped you receive a Division 1 scholarship to Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Talk about that experience and how the recruiting process went for you. Also please address how the NCAA registration process was for you.
A. I had the dream of playing NCAA D1 basketball here in the U.S. since I was 15 years old. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity to play basketball at a really high level and to develop my game, while at the same time getting an education. I had a few different schools that were looking at me throughout the years, but nothing really became serious until Basket Eastern Talents helped me. I got in contact with Basket Eastern Talents late in August last summer, and in the middle of September I arrived at Loyola Marymount University to start my dream of playing college basketball. The NCAA-registration process is never an easy one, and there are lots of documents that have to be sent to the NCAA Eligibility Center. It usually takes a long time before you are fully cleared, and because of that I would recommend starting on the NCAA Eligibility Center process early. It is also extremely important to find the right fit when looking at different college situations, and this was something Basket Eastern Talents was very successful in helping me with.
Q. How hard is it to get recruited being a European player without proper exposure in the U.S.A. ? What obstacles did you face?
A. Getting recruited as a European player is very difficult. I tried to contact schools myself and sent game tapes, highlights, grades and all the other information I had. I even asked coaches I had back home to see if they had any contacts, but nothing really worked or led to anything.
Q. Many players play in the FIBA Europe Championships to not only represent their country, but also to hopefully get exposure. What do you think about the exposure to college coaches at these events? Do you wish you went to an exposure event in the U.S.A. in the summer one time instead?
A. I was part of the Swedish Youth National Team program since I was 15 years old. I played in the FIBA European Championships U16 twice, the U18 twice and the U20 twice. I believe that representing my country is an honor and an achievement that I am very proud of. With that said, getting the right exposure in the USA would definitely have been better for my exposure and it was something that I constantly was debating with my parents and coaches during the beginning of every summer. I never got the chance to go to an exposure event like that here in the U.S., but it is something that I wish I would have done, and that definitely would have helped me to get recruited.
Q. How do you feel about being able to not just visit, but live, study and play in Southern California now?
A. Living in Southern California is really great, and getting to study and play at such an amazing university like Loyola Marymount University is a dream come true for me. I feel very blessed to have gotten this opportunity and try to enjoy every day and work as hard as I can both on the court and in the classroom.
Q. Is the college experience everything you thought it would be?
A. The college experience definitely is what I hoped it would be, but many things are hard to prepare for before you actually get here and get to experience them for real. For example, the athleticism of the players here is on a completely different level compared to back home, and the game is a lot faster. Practices are more intense, and the season is shorter which makes every single game important. Socially, going to college is a lot of fun and getting to experience the U.S. is great. You quickly learn that the life of a Student-Athlete is a very busy one, and in between practice, weights, class and homework there really is not a lot of time left over. At the same time, no day is boring, and the people you meet and the friendships you develop stay with you for a lifetime.
Q. What advice would you give to fellow Europeans trying to achieve their goal of playing basketball in the United States?
A. I would say that making sure you are getting the right exposure is the most important thing. Of course, you have to combine that with working hard every day to get better. I would make sure to start the NCAA Eligibility Center process early, and make sure that you are taking care of the paperwork necessary. This way, when the opportunity comes up, you will be ready. Getting the right exposure is not easy, but I would definitely recommend going to the U.S., as this is where the most college coaches are. It’s much easier for them to come out to see you play here.
Q. Tell us your opinion about the Elite Euro Talent Camp. Do you think it can help European kids to find the right fit in college?
A. The Elite Euro Talent Camp seems to be an amazing opportunity for European talents who are in the same situation I was in. To get the chance to train, get better, work on their game, and see California, while also having the chance to get exposure to college coaches is nearly impossible to get elsewhere. It’s very tough to even get this exposure when playing with the youth national teams. I believe Elite Euro Talent can help talented kids find their dream situations.