Logan Elers grew up with a basketball in his hand, so it is no surprise to see him flourishing on the court in the United States.

In August 2016 the former Rotorua Boys' High School student took up a scholarship to study and play basketball at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Other than the NBA, playing college basketball in America is about as tough as it gets, but Elers is certainly making the most of the opportunity.

"To be completely honest, I have loved ever moment, apart from maybe the minus 15 degree weather and the multiple inches of snow every winter.

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"But basketball has been amazing. I've been lucky enough to play with some amazing guys, all the way from my freshmen year to currently in my junior year, and I've had the opportunity to play for two amazing coaching staffs," he said.

Currently in his third year of college, he has enjoyed testing himself against some of the up-and-coming superstars of American basketball.

"The major differences in the game of basketball is probably the size, speed and skill.

"Every team in my conference has guards that are faster than I was used to and posts that are bigger than back home.

"Comparing it to high school basketball back home, everyone that gets on the court here can play. They've all been 'the guy' in high school and can all score and play basketball at a high level, otherwise they wouldn't be a college basketball player.

"I'm lucky enough to play in a great conference where every night we play a different type of team, with different types of players that all pose a different threat. Obviously, the money associated with college sports is unreal here in the US, so some of the teams' facilities and gyms are amazing."

Going up against the best has been a challenge for Elers, but also provided opportunities for some unforgettable highlights, as an individual and with his team.

"One of my favorite highlights every year is getting to play South Dakota State in an exhibition at the start of the season. I go to a Division II school, so getting to play a mid-Major Division I school who go to the national tournament every year is exciting.

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"It's always fun to play against bigger and better competition and see how I can perform.

"They have one of the best scorers in the country, Mike Daum, who will probably be a first round pick in the NBA in the next year. Obviously, its memorable to play against someone of that calibre.

Former Rotorua Boys' High School student Logan Elers (left) has been playing basketball for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology since 2016. Photo / Supplied
Former Rotorua Boys' High School student Logan Elers (left) has been playing basketball for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology since 2016. Photo / Supplied

"One of the biggest highlights team-wise was the win over Colorado School of Mines in my freshman year. There is a rivalry between our two teams as we are both engineering schools and the only ones in this part of the country. At the time they were ranked 13th in the country and came into the game very confident they were going to win, but we beat them at home - that was one of my favorite moments.

"I have put on a lot of muscle and size in order to compete with some of the athletes here, and the two-hour daily practices have certainly helped me refine my game. I have worked a lot with our coaching staff on my post moves, and being able to score one-on-one in the post."

However, it is not all about the basketball for Elers who is well aware of the importance of education and the fact a basketball career will not last forever.

He is studying for a Bachelor of Metallurgical Engineering (the study of metals) and last year was named in the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Men's Basketball First Team, an award which recognises the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.

"What a lot of people don't understand when kids travel to the US [on sports scholarships] is that they are also committing to become a full-time student. I attend a very tough engineering school here in Rapid City and even though it is a daily challenge and I struggle to find time to sleep, I have found it very rewarding.

"My studies have been going very well. A bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering is no easy feat. I have been lucky enough with the grades I have received to be named on the dean's list every semester I have been here at South Dakota School of Mines.

"I work very hard to keep these grades up as well as perform in the classroom, so I was lucky enough to be awarded the top men's basketball scholar last year.

Logan Elers has enjoyed testing himself against some of the best US college basketball players. Photo / Supplied
Logan Elers has enjoyed testing himself against some of the best US college basketball players. Photo / Supplied

"I believe that it is vital to have a back-up to basketball, and that's a big reason why I chose to come to this school. My scholarship allows me to basically get a free education while I am playing basketball, and you can't find that in many other places."

During the upcoming American summer he will complete a metallurgical engineering internship in Arizona.

"After I graduate in May, 2020 I really have no idea where my life will take me. I will have a degree that I can use to make a lot of money, but I also know the opportunity to come home and continue playing basketball in the NBL is a very real possibility."

A major driving force behind Elers' accomplishments is the support he receives from his family. His father Mark Elers, head basketball coach at Rotorua Boys' High School, was recognised at the Bay of Plenty Sports Awards last year for an overwhelming contribution to secondary school sport.

"My dad and my family are the reason I am doing what I am doing. I am so lucky to have a backbone that supports me so much and has given me this opportunity to be doing everything that I am.

"I am so glad dad has been awarded for his service because I know how much time an effort he commits to basketball, and I know he treats all the kids like they're his own. I have been a coach's kid since I was young, basically since I started taking basketball seriously, so I owe everything I know to him. He has put me in the positions to succeed, and without him I wouldn't be doing any of this."