Pacifica Christian’s Parker Strauss, a skilled 2023 guard who gained recruiting notoriety during the June’s Section 7 tournament in Arizona, recently committed to Northwestern. His backcourt mate, 6’3” guard E.J. Spillman, is now gaining some serious steam behind his recruitment. Spillman, who plays much bigger than his height thanks to his 6’9” wingspan and strong frame, is going to play a major role this season for Pacifica Christian and is picking up DI offers on the West Coast and beyond.
When asked about his expectations for Spillman, his Pacifica Christian coach, Jeff Berokoff shared “I expect E.J. to put immense pressure on the opposing defense with his ability to get to the rim and to create for others.”
“I’ve seen immense improvements in E.J.’s game,” Berokoff remarked when asked about Spillman’s improvement from his freshman to the beginning of his sophomore season. “His ability to stay on balance while penetrating the defense has been most noticeable. And also his ability to shoot the three ball at a high clip, has been quite noticeable.” Look for Spillman to keep adding offers over the next two seasons.
Recently, Spillman spent time with Pro Insight’s Michael Visenberg to chat about the latest with his recruitment.
For the next installment of “Recruiting Roundup,” we present class of 2025 prospect E.J. Spillman, from Long Beach, California:
Pro Insight: Give us some background — how long have you been playing basketball and when did you start taking it seriously?
E.J. Spillman: I mean, I’ve been playing basketball my whole life. I never really was interested in anything else. I didn’t play with toys, it was always just basketball, so I really just kind of came out the womb playing it. I started to play organized basketball at about 4 or 5 years old, in this little league called “The Wood” and ever since then, it has just been hoops.
PI: When did you realize you could possibly get to that next level and get a college scholarship?
ES: Right when I kind of started AAU, I was killing it and I was doing pretty well, a lot of coaches started telling me it was a possibility. I didn’t really see it. But this past summer I was running with LA Elite, we had a really good run and I was bringing in a lot of attention. That is when I kind of knew, I got a lot of confidence in myself and that is when I knew that if I stay on this path I can do something with basketball.
PI: How was your summer playing with Pacifica Christian and Los Angeles Elite? What do you feel you showed college coaches?
ES: It was great, you know, I think we only lost five games throughout the whole Spring and Summer. We (Pacifica Christian) made a really good appearance in Section 7, we only lost one game there. Felt like I showed out, got a couple schools interested. During the AAU season with LA Elite played a lot of good tournaments like Vegas Big Time, and felt like I showed coaches my offensive skill and my leadership. Being able to lead a team and show my communication, vocal presence as well. Also really improved my shooting this summer as well, which was dope to be able to showcase.
PI: What are you hoping to show college coaches during this upcoming season?
ES: I really want to show a more defensive aspect to my game. I have a pretty big offensive presence, that is what my thing is, but I can really get after it on defense. I am willing to guard the best players and I feel like I can guard multiple positions. That is the next step, to try and showcase that and get better at that.
PI: What are some things you are focusing on in terms of getting ready for college and taking your game to the next level?
ES: This summer and throughout the season just trying to get in the best shape as possible and getting my body right. At the Division I level, people are bigger, stronger, faster. That is the next step for me, being able to have a pro build, being able to outlast guys mentally and physically. So that is the biggest focus right now.
PI: What things are you looking for in terms of a college program, both on and off the court?
ES: I really want to go to a place where they have a winning culture, where I am able to have a good relationship with the coaches and I am going to be surrounded by players that want to win and have the same competitive nature as me. Where the team is willing to get better as basketball players and as men, that is the biggest thing.
PI: What programs are prioritizing you and showing you the most interest right now?
ES: The schools that have offered me are Pepperdine, Portland, Fordham, and South Alabama — those schools are prioritizing me right now. Northwestern has been showing me a lot of love, those are schools that have been hitting me up lately.
PI: What are some schools you would like to hear from, and did you have a dream school when you were younger?
ES: When I was younger, I always was a big Oregon guy. Also like Baylor, North Carolina, schools like that. I used to play football as well, and Oregon was the dream school, so if I heard from them, that would be crazy. Also Arizona State, if I talked to them, that is a school where I want to be on their radar, for sure.
PI: Have you visited any schools so far and do you have any visits lined up?
ES: No, I haven’t taken any visits, yet. I plan on visiting Pepperdine, I really want to see their campus and meet a lot of their guys. I was going to try to go up there but (Pacifica Christian) is going to Vegas this week, so we are going to have to postpone that, but I really want to see their campus.
PI: How do you project your role at the college level?
ES: I feel like I am going to be a very big impact guy in that I bring a lot of energy and leadership. Feel like with the way I play, it rubs off on others. I am a player that can get my teammates involved in the game. That is going to be my role, to make sure everyone is locked in and we can out-energize teams.
PI: What are some of your goals for this season at Pacifica Christian?
ES: Definitely to get a banner. I want to go as far as possible, I feel like my squad, we have a lot of pieces and a lot of weapons. People are trying to count us out, but I feel like we are sleepers and can contend for something big this year.
PI: What was the biggest thing you learned during your freshman year at Pacifica Christian?
ES: Not to get complacent. I came in and I thought I was going to be an automatic varsity guy, and I went in with big expectations, but you have to be humble and not be complacent with where you are at. There is always going to be somebody that does something better than you. I almost played JV and that was a big eye-opener for me, so I said, yeah, I need to work on that thing and get used to the increased pace of high school.
PI: What are some of the things you like doing off the court?
ES: I like to chill with my guys, man. As you know, I’ve said this a million times, I am an energetic dude. Like to be around my friends, listen to music, I like other sports too, am a big football guy as well. I dance, I’m willing to do about anything, I like having fun!
PI: Do you have any pre-game rituals or go-to hype music?
ES: Oh, before a game? I usually go really hype or listen to Bob Marley before every game. Before I go into a game, I listen to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. The song says “Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is going to be alright,” and kind of takes all of my worries away. I usually get wrist tape, or do something for my Dad, because that is my why, the reason why I go. He passed away in 2018 and that is kind of the reason I am the way I am and why I work so hard…why I take every day so serious. So that is what I do before every game, do a tribute to Pops and listen to Bob Marley and chill.
PI: At the end of the day, what would you hope to be remembered for?
ES: I want to be remembered for my character. I just want to be remembered as a difference maker, somebody that always worked and always put a positive impact on others. I go by the quote “the greatest way you can impact is to inspire.” So I really want to inspire other people and just be known as somebody who worked, always helped and left his mark everywhere he went.