Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner may get his first commitment from a versatile wing player from Houston with Norwegian roots.
Kristian Sjolund, a small forward whose recruiting picked up over the summer, came to Tech on Saturday for an official visit. Baylor, Ole Miss, Colorado, Washington State and Illinois are among schools hoping for official visits from Sjolund, according to his AAU coach, Stephon Leary of the Shooting Stars.
“He’s a very skilled, athletic kid and has a lot to offer,” Leary said Sunday. “A good, all-around game. He can pass it, dribble it, shoot it.”
Of benefit to Tech’s chances, Leary said that Sjolund has indicated his interest in finishing his recruitment quickly.
“All this recruiting stuff is overwhelming for him, so his dad and myself have been trying to navigate the path for him,” Leary said. “I think he’s going to make an early decision. I’m not sure he’ll even use all five (official) visits. He just wants to find the right place for him, a coach that will build a genuine relationship like he and I have.”
Also in Tech’s favor: Both of Sjolund’s parents were able to make the visit, according to Leary, which may not be the case for future official visits. Also, Pastner comes with Leary’s approval. Pastner grew up in Houston, and Leary has known him since Pastner was a high schooler helping coach his father Hal’s AAU team. Leary called Pastner a “very good friend” and a “great coach.”
Leary was in contact with Pastner this past year, sending him updates and videos, and Tech was the first high-major school to offer him, according to Leary. And, Leary said, Sjolund has felt good about conversations that he has had with Pastner.
“I think they’re in great position (in Sjolund’s recruitment), actually,” Leary said. “They’re in a great position to convince him that it’s the place for him.”
Pastner is eager to secure his first commitment for the 2018 signing class, as it would help build momentum and also enable him and his staff to narrow down targets for the other open slots. At least three scholarships will be available.
Pastner and assistant coach Tavaras Hardy watched Sjolund play at least one game in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Classic AAU tournament in July. He is a versatile player, able to shoot from the perimeter, block shots and run the floor. At the FIBA U16 European Championships in 2015, he averaged 18.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for Norway.
“He can grab it off the rim and push it in the open court and make the right read and finish at the rim or stop and shoot it,” Leary said.
Sjolund was born in the state of Washington, grew up in Norway (his father is Norwegian and his mother is American) and moved to the U.S. when he was in the seventh grade before returning to Norway for ninth grade and then moving back to metro Houston (Katy, to be precise, which is just west of the city) for his sophomore year at Thompkins High.
Sjolund’s visit to Tech ends Monday.