Eric Sandrin (이승준) was taken second overall in the 2009 KBL “Ethnic” draft by the Seoul Samsung Thunders.
He played collegiate basketball at Seattle Pacific University and had played for a variety of basketball leagues overseas. Eric was actually not a complete newcomer to the KBL as he had played previously for the KBL’s Ulsan Mobis Phoebus as a “foreign player” in the 2007-08 season.
His younger brother is Daniel Sandrin (이동준) of the KBL’s Daegu Orions.
Eric finished the 2009-10 season with the following stats (courtesy of Asia-Basket.com):
Our interview with Eric took place in July 2010.
Please note that HalfKorean.com comments/questions are in BOLD.
What made you decide to pursue playing professionally in Korea?
The thought of playing in Korea was always in the back of my mind, I was approached in high school by some Korean universities and after that the thought of playing here was always a dream of mine. My brother started his career here while I was still playing elsewhere and he was telling me about his experience and really wanted me to come out and join him, after he said that I was on a mission to do whatever it took to get over here, and here I am.
How would you describe your overall experience in the KBL?
I would describe my overall experience as amazing, from top to bottom the experience here has been great, there was some adjustment to the style of play and to Korean culture but being able to play here and be with my brother has been more than a dream come true. My brother and I have always wanted to play in the same place and finally that has come about, and to be able to play with him here in Korea makes the experience that much more special!
What do/did you think of how the KBL did the “Ethnic” draft?
I think that they did a good job of putting it together. I don’t think they were aware of how many half Koreans there were out there but the guys that showed up to the draft were all good players. I think that the KBL was impressed with their level of play. The “Ethnic” draft was great for all of us because it ultimately gave us the opportunity to play here.
How was acceptance by teammates, players, coaches and fans?
Its really been overwhelming out here, everyone has really embraced me and done all they can to help me in any way possible, I have been truly lucky with my experience. The fans out here are amazing, they are most definitely some of the best in the world.
How would you compare playing in the KBL to other pro leagues?
Every league in the world is unique, I started off in Europe, played in South America, Asia, and the Middle East and interesting this is that basketball is basketball everywhere. Every league has its own different flavor and the KBL is no different. Here the shooters are amazing so that brings a different approach to the game, the game in Europe is more physical whereas here there is more finesse in the game. The level of competition here is great, there are only 10 teams in the league so every game is big out here. All in all this a great league!
Did you have the opportunity to talk/meet with the first mixed Korean KBL player and current KBL Technical Commissioner Kim Dong Kwang? If so, did he have anything to share?
Yes, I have met him and spoken with him on numerous occasions. He actually took all the half Korean draft picks out to dinner after we were drafted. He told us all to work hard and give all we have, and the rewards will take care of themselves.
Between the five picks and two existing players, your brother Daniel & Julian Fernandez, did you guys get a chance to bond at all while in Korea?
Of course I know my brother very well and Julian is a close friend of his so we’ve hung out before. When we had time we would get together and trade stories of our experience, I think all of being here together was great because we already had a group to lean on if we needed it. The best thing about it is that all the guys are great guys and we realized that we were all out here having similar experiences so knowing that we were all supporting one another was big.
What are your goals in the KBL and how long do you plan to play in the league? Would you pursue Korean citizenship to be able to play for the national team as others have?
As far as goals go in the KBL, the only real goal I have out here is to win a championship. I have been playing ball for a long time and the things that stay with you are the wins. All the individual accolades can pile up but without a championship the individual side is meaningless. Hopefully I can play here for a long time. I still love playing and am having the time of my life so hopefully that will continue for a long time.
I actually gave up my US citizenship when I arrived here last summer and became a Korean citizen shortly thereafter. It was always a dream of mine to play for the National team and this summer my brother and I were named to the pool of players that would be chosen for the National team. My brother has played for the National team the past couple summers and said it was some of the most fun he’s ever had playing ball. We have been training for the past 3 weeks getting ready for the Vegas Summer League and eventually the Asian Games in China this coming November. Coming to Korea has been great. Playing in the KBL, playing with my brother, and having the opportunity to play for national team, most of my dreams in basketball are coming true here in Korea!
Interview by: David Lee Sanders