UTEP men’s basketball adds Georgia Tech transfer


courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics

Incoming UTEP transfer forward Kristien Sjolund beings ball down court for Georgia Tech.

The UTEP Miners added itthird transfer of the offseason witGeorgia Tech transfer KristiaSjolund. 

According to CBS Sports Jon Rothstein, Sjolund has chosen to transfer to UTEP and join Head Coach Rodney Terry. 

Sjolund, who has dual citizenship, is a 6-8, 213 pound forward from Kongsberg, Norway and was born in the state of Washington. His family moved to Norway when he was 2-yearsold. After his family moved to Texas, Sjolund played at Obra Tompkins High School in Katy, Texas, and was considered threestar recruit and ranked as the 208th best prospect by 24/7 Sports.com entering college. 

In 2015, Sjolund led the Norway under 16 national team in scoring with 18.7 points a game while shooting 60% from the floor. Sjolund also averaged 5.9 rebounds a game and led the team in 3 point shooting at 33% made. 

At Tompkins High School, Sjolund was a part of the team that was a runner-up in the state 6championship in which he had 4 points and four rebounds in thloss to Allen High School. Spurning multiple Division I offers, Sjolund chose to play for Atlantic Coast Conference power Georgia Tech. 

As a true freshman, Sjolund appeared in 2games for Techaveraging 9 minutes and three points a game. Twice during the season, Sjolund scored in double figures. Against then 17th ranked Florida State, Sjolund had 11 points five rebounds with one block in a blowout loss. Sjolund then followed that game versus ranked Virginia Tech team and had another 11 point effort to go with six rebounds. After starting four games, Sjolund was replaced in the lineup bCurtis Hayward and his playing time dipped to single digits. 

Tech HeaCoach Josh Pastner encouraged Sjolund to redshirt as a sophomore to gain weight and further develop his basketball skills. On Dec. 10 of last year, Sjolund entered the transfer portal with a desire to find a new school, but on Jan. 1he decided to stay at Tech. 

“The more he matures physically and he continues to get better, he’s going to be really good,” Pastner said to the Atlanta JournalConstitution in November of last year. “When he’s 22 or 23, I’m just telling you, he can be a guy that’s a dangerous weapon on the floor all over the place.” 

Whatever the issue that caused Sjolund to want to transfer did not resolve itself over the rest of the season, so now he has committed to be a Miner. 

The Miners have lost a great deal othe deptthe team had at the beginning of last season. Sjolund gives UTEP a big man that has a lot of potential in the outside game, but needs to get much stronger. Defensively and on the boards, Sjolund needs to get a lot better as neither has been his strong point thus far in his career. 

On the surface, signing a player that only averaged 3 points a game may not seem like an exciting move for the Miners. With that being said, Sjolund did play as a true freshman starting four games for a major conference basketball team. Thquestion must be asked what caused Sjolund to fall out the rotation with Tech suddenly. One primary reason for the team willing to redshirt Sjolund was the arrival othreestar and top 100 prospect Jordan Usher from the University of Southern California.  Sjolund a sophomore has three years of athletic eligibility remaining.

With point guard still a significant concern and weakness, the Miners seem to have depth with big men as long as Efe Odijie and Eric Vila both return. With Miners high school commit Quincy Mcgriff from Santa Monica High School choosing to go to Salt Lake City Community College, UTEP still has scholarships to offer. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]