U16 MEN DIVISION B
|Ludvig Hakanson already has the shooting style right, and he's working on game fundamentals that will turn him into an all-round guard|
By David Hein
Ludvig Hakanson is one of Sweden's top young talents and the 16-year-old has been receiving a crash course at both guard positions at FC Barcelona Regal's basketball talent factory.
This summer "Ludde" will test his leadership skills in hoping to bring Sweden to Division A at the U16 European Championship.
Last year, Sweden crashed to 14th place at the Division B level though it cannot really be blamed on Hakanson, who was the second leading scorer in the tournament with 22.2 points, including a 38-point showing against Estonia.
He led the event in steals with 4.1 per game while chipping in 4.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a 15-year-old.
In this summer's U16 Division B tournament, Sweden are drawn into Group A with Israel, Luxembourg, Finland and Belarus.
The 2011-12 season was a special one for Hakanson, who is the son of former Swedish international Olle Ludvig Hakanson.
Satisifed with their two previous young Swedish recruits, Marcus Eriksson and Nicholas Spires, Barcelona went back northwards and returned to Spain with another one in Hakanson.
"He needs to play at a higher level to become a higher level player, and we really feel that he can be that. And we are happy that Barcelona feels so too," said Olle Lunden, Sweden's U18 coach, for whom Hakanson played at the 2012 U18 Albert Schweitzer Tournament.
"He is a scorer, a leader and a winner. That's Ludde. And I know that Barcelona and I are helping him to understand that the point guard role is also about setting up other players. He is a leader on the court. He talks all the time. He's good to have."
When asked to compare Ludde to his father, Lunden said: "They are kind of the same size. His father was a point guard, a very quiet point guard. And this guy talks all the time, which is really good. He just needs to play with better players for a while because he's a smart kid, which means he will learn the trade of being a point guard."
Barcelona have been very impressed with Hakanson's development in his first season away from Sweden.
"The beginning of this season wasn't easy for Ludde because he had to adapt to many things: new club, new coaches, new league, new language ... and overall a new way of practicing," said Barcelona's youth teams director Jordi Ardevol.
"Since the beginning, Ludde had to combine the U16 and the U18 teams, so he had to learn how to play with two different roles, and in two different positions too. And at the same time he had extra practices in order to improve his individual skills and his physical condition. That is a lot of work for a new player in a new club."
Ardevol said Hakanson has the natural talent to be a great scorer.
"But we are trying to make Ludde into something more than a scorer in the future in order to ‘build' a most complete player," said Ardevol.
"This is the reason why we are trying to make him play (point guard) and (shooting guard) on offense and on defense too.
"So he must understand that he'll be a better player if he improves his passing and dribbling skills - not only trusting in his natural talent to shoot the ball."
Lunden said he would love to have Hakanson play with the U18s this summer. But the Swedes will keep him with his own age group.
"Normally for the last five years or so, nobody has played in another age group. This would really be the first time where a player comes in and is effective being two years younger," said Lunden.
While the Swedish federation confirmed that Hakanson will play with the U16s in Tallinn, Ludde did show at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament that he can play at the U18 level as well - leading Sweden in points with 15.0 per game while averaging 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
That is certainly being a leader.