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Hakanson's huge upside as Sweden's future floor leader

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - Just look at Ludvig Hakanson and you can tell he's young. But watch the Swedish guard on the court at EuroBasket 2013 and it's hard to tell he's just 17 years old.

He's also the future of basketball for Sweden.

Sweden coach Brad Dean admitted after the first game in Slovenia that he was surprised Hakanson is even in Koper. The Matteus native was invited to Swedish senior national team camp to slowly get him into the mix. But Hakanson was just too good not to make the team.

"He's an amazing player. We didn't really think he would make the team when we invited him to camp. But he played with so much maturity, well beyond his years," said Dean.

"He's a player with the maturity of someone who has played for many years.

"I believe he can be a Euroleague floor leader."

That's some lofty praise for such a youngster - especially one from Sweden, still considered an emerging basketball nation.

But Ludde has the skills.

He initially grew up and excelled in the Swedish youth levels as a scoring machine. But Spanish giants Barcelona snagged Hakanson when he was 15 years old and started teaching the 1.90m youngster to be a point guard.

Two seasons later, Hakanson has already graduated to the highest of levels. In May this year, he played for Barcelona at the Nike International Junior Tournament (NIJT) at the Euroleague Final Four. This summer he first starred at the U18 European Championship Division B before then making the Swedish team.

He is the second in his family to play at the EuroBasket as his father Olle Hakanson played for Sweden at the 1993 and 1995 editions. And Ludde's sister Fanny Hakanson played for Sweden at the 2013 U16 European Championship for Women.

Ludvig Hakanson is just the latest in an ever-growing list of young talents coming through the Swedish ranks.

NBA players Jonas Jerebko and Jeffery Taylor are 26 and 24 years of age respectively while solid talents Marcus Eriksson and Nicholas Spires are both 19 years old. Eriksson and Spires have both been playing club basketball in Spain since 2010 and both are playing at Barcelona as well.

Hakanson, however, is the gold nugget that Sweden hopes turns into a diamond.

He is a great shooter, as displayed by him taking the title at the NIJT three-point shooting contest in May. He also has improved his point guard skills, averaging 4.3 assists at the U18 Euros this summer.

Jerebko and Taylor both were surprised with how mature Hakanson already is while Sweden point guard Thomas Massamba used the words 'patient' and 'smart' to describe Hakanson.

Having followed his career for the past two seasons, it was very exciting for Eye on the Future to see Hakanson at EuroBasket. And despite the clear talent level, it was also a surprise to see how well he is holding his own in Slovenia.

Sweden fans can definitely be thrilled about having such a young high-level playmaker already making in-roads into the national team - well on his path to a bright future..

David Hein


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