And then, there were none. The last of the two Icelandic guards who arrived at LIU Brooklyn two seasons ago has departed.
Today, it was officially announced that guard Martin Hermannsson, who had completed his sophomore year at LIU this past season, has officially signed a deal to play professional basketball in France next season with French club Etoile de Charleville-Mézières Ardennes Basket, who play in the French Basketball Pro B, France’s second division league.
Apparently, Hermannsson signed with a new basketball sporting agency called Tangram Sports Management back in early June as it was first reported by Guido Guida from Spicchi d’Arancia in Italy. This agency was just founded back in May.
With Hermannsson’s departure, LIU has lost both their Icelandic guards in the last two seasons. Point guard Elvar Fridriksson transferred from LIU last summer and played at the Division II level this past season. More importantly, LIU loses one of their two All-NEC first team players and a player who started every game for LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri in his two seasons in Downtown Brooklyn.
Hermannsson had a great sophomore season for the Blackbirds in which he averaged 16.2 points per game which was second-best on the team and fourth-best in the NEC. He also averaged 4.7 assists per game (tied for 2nd in NEC) and shot 45.8 percent from the field, 36 percent from three and finished with a NEC second-best 88.2 percent free throw percentage. He also led the NEC with a 2.15 assist-to-turnover ratio and led LIU in minutes played at over 36 minutes per game.
The news of Hermannsson turning pro leaves LIU with three returning starters in seniors Jerome Frink and Joel Hernandez and redshirt junior Nura Zanna. Point guard Aakim Saintil transferred from LIU after the season ended. He has since landed at Iona where he will sit out next season.
Hermannsson going pro and heading back to Europe probably shouldn’t have come as a huge shock although it is a bit surprising he decided to leave after his sophomore season and not want to return for his junior season in which LIU has a lot of experience returning and would have been among the pre-season favorites to compete for an NEC championship next season.
Yet, it is understandable why he felt now was the time for him to head back to Europe and turn pro. One, he will be 22 years old at the start of next season which is usually the age most college players graduate. Two, he is coming off his best season at LIU in which he finished as an All-NEC first team selection. Even though he probably would have been among the short list of players that have been considered for preseason NEC Player of the Year, there is obviously no guarantee he will put up similar numbers next season although most including myself would feel he would have surpassed them. Three, his international experience playing back home in his native Iceland and his time with the Icelandic national team over the last few summers and especially playing last summer in the FIBA Eurobasket against mostly NBA and European professionals, gave him a gauge whether or not he could hold his own against top level players. He is also likely to play in the EuroBasket 2017 qualifers for Iceland which begins in the end of August. All that plus the money and just worrying about playing basketball full-time were all likely factors that led to his decision.
There is actually precedence in the LIU program of players leaving early to play professionally overseas. The two that come to mind are Aurimas Adomaitis and Lucas Faggiano. Adomaitis was a Lithuanian forward who left LIU after his junior season back in 2009 to play professionally in Europe. Faggiano was a point guard from Argentina who played just one semester at LIU his freshman season back in 2008-09 before heading back home to play professionally. Both players are still playing professionally.
With Hermannsson now gone, this leaves Perri and LIU with two open scholarships remaining according to Verbal Commits. This also takes away a outstanding ball handler and passer as well as a smart decision maker.
I felt going into next season, there was a good chance he would become the team’s starting point guard and free up the shooting guard position for an open competition in the fall. Now, it looks like competition will be open for both the point and shooting guard spots.
With four of five starters returning, LIU looked like a lock for no worse than third in the preseason NEC polling but now with the loss of Hermannsson, they could likely drop a peg or two in the eyes of some of those who follow the NEC going into next season.