A Small Piece of Stewarton in the USA

When Stewarton Academy 6th year student Ewan Lancaster steps on a flight to the USA at the end of August, he will be taking the biggest jump of his life so far. He is not going there on holiday, but is in fact continuing his education in the Big Apple, New York. Specifically, he will be undertaking a basketball scholarship at The Hun School of Princeton in New Jersey, a stone’s throw from New York City. I caught up with the 6’6” 17 year old as he made his final preparations for his giant leap ‘across the pond’.

How did you first come across the chance to study in America?

Having the opportunity to play basketball for Scotland over the last 5 years has led to many fantastic basketball experiences in Europe. This has allowed me the chance to demonstrate my ability to a much wider audience and the chance of studying in America first came to me in the summer of 2013 after competing in the European Championships in Gibraltar. I was approached by a school in Boca Raton, Florida and also by a school in New Jersey. We have stayed in contact ever since.

You flew out to America to have interviews with two separate schools, tell us a bit about your experience on that trip?

The main focus of the trip was to see first-hand what each school was able to offer and for me to picture myself in that environment – if given that opportunity. I started the trip in New York sightseeing with my dad and preparing for interviews at Princeton the next day. Princeton was unbelievable. The facilities, people, students and faculty were beyond expectations and I could not have been made more welcome. The next day we flew to Miami to explore my second school in Boca Raton. It was a very different atmosphere, in terms of heat, size and layout, but it was equally as unbelievable. I sat my SSAT exam there and enjoyed meeting some of the staff and the people in charge. Both schools had incredible facilities and very dedicated staff. I returned knowing I wanted to have that experience.

How did you decide between the two schools and was it a simple decision in the end?

Being offered a place at both schools was absolutely fantastic and led to much soul searching as to where I’d go. After about a month of thinking through my options, in the end I chose the school at Princeton. This was the biggest and most difficult decision of my life to date.

How long do you plan to stay in America for?

At this stage, that is very hard to say. I would like to stay there as long as possible but it all depends on how successful my first year at Princeton is.

What are you looking forward to most about studying in America?

I am looking forward to both the basketball and academic opportunity. Being part of a different education system will be otherwise challenging but it presents me with classes I would not have had the chance to study, for example, American history. I am also looking forward to being part of an international community where I will make new friends and learn about new cultures.

Is there anything in particular you will miss about Scotland and Stewarton in particular?

The biggest things I will miss are my family and classmates at school, some of whom I have known for the majority of my life. As I regard Stewarton as my home, I will miss being part of the community that am so familiar with. I will also miss my teammates and coaches at Ayrshire Tornadoes.

What are the differences between basketball in America and basketball in Scotland?

There are far more high calibre players in America compared to Scotland. The profile of basketball in America is on a completely different level compared to Scotland. I will be able to develop my fundamentals to a higher standard than I ever could in the UK.

What impact will going out to America have on your basketball ambitions?

To me, going to America is a big step in my basketball journey as if you want to progress in the sport, the United States is the place to be.

What are your family thinking about the move to America?

My mum and dad have always supported my basketball and have encouraged me to fulfil my dreams. I wouldn’t be doing this without them. My wee brother wishes it was him!