A native of Norway who spent his high school years in Texas, Kristian Sjolund came to Georgia Tech with excellent basketball skills and international experience. Able to stretch the floor with his jump shot, Kristian has impressive shot mechanics, a smooth shooting motion and deep range on his shot. He has a 6-foot, 10.25-inch wingspan, and gained 10 pounds and two inches on his vertical jump since pre-season of his freshman year while doing extra work with strength coach Dan Taylor on practice days.
Sjolund enrolled at Tech on the heels of the graduation of San Antonio native Ben Lammers, and followed two other Texans of note in the Yellow Jackets’ program, forwards Chris Bosh and Jeremis Smith. He grew up in Kongsberg, Norway, but has lived in Texas since 2014. He began playing basketball at age nine, following in the footsteps of his father, who played college basketball at Florida Atlantic from 1993-97. Kristian is studying business administration.
Serving a redshirt year this season, Sjolund played in 21 games as a freshman, notching a pair of double-figure efforts against Virginia Tech and Florida State.
What is your nickname?
“They call me ‘Kris’ or ‘K-Sjo’ [pronounced like ‘Show’]”
Why did you choose Georgia Tech?
“I liked the people that we had around the area. And I liked Coach Pastner’s enthusiasm and his way of doing things here. He’s doing great for the culture, and the people around are supporting him and supporting each other, so I really like that a lot.”
What made you first fall in love with the game?
“My dad played back in Norway for one of the top teams. The level is not as great as here, but it was pretty good. I was about three years old when my family moved there. So I watched for maybe six or seven years when he played and that gave me the inspiration to play basketball.”
What was your first exposure to NBA players as a kid growing up in Norway?
“My dad and uncle had old clips of Michael Jordan, and I watched a lot of the clips and kind of grew up watching him. In Norway they didn’t really [show] that many NBA games back then, so I didn’t know a lot of the modern players until I was a little older.”
What was the biggest adjustment moving to Houston from Norway?
“I would say everything is a lot bigger there compared to Norway and the small town where I grew up, Kongsberg. Everything is so close there, but in Houston everything is spread out. It takes some time to get used to the distances and how long it takes to get to places.”
What players did you grow up watching/modeling your game after?
“I looked at a lot of different players and how they used their feet and their bodies and tried to have an idea of how they used it. So Dirk [Nowitzki] uses his feet a lot on his fade away. And then obviously Michael Jordan with his footwork, and Kobe. Kevin Durant, with his length and all of his explosiveness and his handles, and then Klay Thompson and [Steph] Curry with their off the dribble shooting or off the catch and shoot. I learned different things from different people.”
Who is your favorite athlete outside of basketball?
“I like [Lionel] Messi a lot. He’s so different from other people. He knows how to handle his body. It’s very impressive how he uses his size to his advantage. He’s so fast with the ball, his feet are so fast. He keeps the ball closer than anyone else.”
What is your favorite sports movie?
“I would say ‘Space Jam.’ When I was young I loved cartoons. You have Michael Jordan, who I looked up to a lot, as well as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. They’re funny. They’re one of a kind, that’s for sure.”