George Gervin, a four-time NBA scoring champ from 1978 to 1982, was nicknamed “Iceman” because of his cool demeanor on the court.
Barry University has its own Ice Man — Elvar Fridriksson, a 6-0 sophomore point guard from Njardvik, Iceland.
Fridriksson, who is averaging 10.4 points and leads NCAA Division II with 8.5 assists, was named the Sunshine State Conference’s Newcomer of the Year last week.
On Saturday at 1 p.m., he will lead third-seeded Barry (26-5) against sixth-seeded Rollins (21-8) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Huntsville, Alabama.
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Barry’s best player is 6-6 senior wing Yunio Barrueta, who was named the conference’s Player of the Year after averaging 24.7 points and 9.1 rebounds. Barrueta, fifth in the nation in scoring, has led Barry to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
“But as good as Yunio is,” Barry coach Butch Estes said, “the first thing people want to know when they see us play is: ‘Who is that No. 10? He’s unbelievable’.”
No. 10 is Fridriksson, who came to the U.S. for the 2014-2015 season at Long Island University Brooklyn, a Division I program. He averaged 8.9 points and a team-high 3.8 assists as a freshman but decided he wasn’t comfortable and wanted to transfer.
Fridriksson heard about Barry through a fellow Iceland native, Aegir Steinarsson, who had played previously for Barry assistant coach Justin Furr.
After doing his research, Fridriksson decided that Barry’s success with Division I transfers such as Barrueta and its track record as a winning program were enough to convince him to sign.
The warm climate didn’t hurt, either.
“Coming from Iceland, I’ve never seen weather like this,” said Fridriksson, who speaks Icelandic as his primary language followed by English and Danish.
Estes said Fridriksson, 21, won his Barry teammates almost immediately.
The Bucs could easily see that Fridriksson, who has led Iceland’s senior national team in tournament games in Bosnia, England and Luxembourg, had an aptitude for the game.
After all, his father, Fridrik Ragnarsson, was also a point guard and is now a coach in Iceland.
What makes Fridriksson so good?
“Elvar is a solid shooter, but his ball-handling and his passing are exceptional,” Estes said. “He can offset quicker players because of the way he changes pace and changes directions. And his basketball IQ is as high as anyone in the country.”
Estes said Fridriksson will help Barry’s recruiting the next two years because scorers want to play with a point guard like him.
In the meantime, Fridriksson is enjoying his teammates, most of whom are curious about Iceland.
“One of my teammates asked me if we had igloos,” he said. “I told him, ‘No, it’s not like that. It’s similar to America – just colder.”
Ice, Ice Baby …