Virginia Tech’s shooting guard Matilda Ekh has never backed down from chasing big dreams, even if it means moving to a foreign country or transferring schools.
A two-time All-Big Ten performer during her time at Michigan State, Ekh brought her talents to Tech in the summer of 2023.
The Sweden native grew up surrounded by basketball. Both of her parents played, as well as her brother, which compelled Ekh to follow suit around the time she was eight years old. Her talent and love for the game developed quickly.
At just 15 years old, Ekh made the big decision to move away from home and attend a premier basketball school, where she made a name for herself by representing Sweden in several European basketball tournaments. Her big break came when she was named to the Swedish National Team for the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2021 tournament.
“I’ve been on the youth national team since I was 15, but that was such a shock for me to get invited to play with the seniors,” Ekh said. “I’ve been watching those players since I was 10, so getting to actually play with them was such an amazing experience.”
Ekh knew that relocating to the United States would help advance her basketball career. She heard good things from other players who had moved and saw tremendous value in a collegiate student-athlete experience.
Following her senior year of high school, Ekh landed at Michigan State as a starting wing under head coach Suzy Merchant.
It wasn’t an easy transition. Ekh had to learn a new language and adjust to the many cultural differences. Basketball had its differences as well, namely in the playing style and interest in the sport.
“Basketball is not very big in Sweden, and here it’s one of the main sports,” Ekh explained. “Pretty much everyone played basketball growing up and is interested in basketball. That’s just not how it is in Sweden.”
Ekh’s playing style shifted from playing at point guard to shooting more. She became notoriously dangerous from behind the arc, shooting 39% from 3-point range while knocking down 138 3-pointers as one of the top 3-point shooters in the Big Ten during her time in East Lansing.
At the end of her sophomore season, Coach Merchant and most of the coaching staff stepped down, prompting Ekh to explore other options for her remaining two years of eligibility. The success and family-centric aspects of Virginia Tech’s program stood out to Ekh when she considered her next steps.
“I always had a good feeling about Virginia Tech,” Ekh said. “When I started talking to the coaches, Coach Rad (Radvile Autukaite) and I connected instantly since we’re both from Europe and she understood my situation.”
Just 20 games into her career as a Hokie, Ekh has already made an impact, scoring 10.4 points per game, third on the team. During Tech’s 84-59 win at Rutgers in December, she led all scorers with 25 points, including seven 3-pointers.
“Matilda positively impacts the team both on and off the court,” Autukaite said of Ekh and the effect she has on the program. “Anytime she steps on the court whether it be at practice or in a game you know she is going to give it her all. Off the court she’s pleasant, mature, and a reliable teammate. She fits perfectly into the culture that Coach Brooks has built at Virginia Tech. We are extremely lucky and grateful that she is a Hokie!”
Ekh has found a lot to love about the program, on and off the court. The team’s foreign tour to Greece and the exhilarating home triumph against the then-No. 3 NC State both resonate with her as standout moments.
She vividly remembers the electric atmosphere in Cassell that day, unable to hear anything for hours after the game because of the deafening cheers from a sold-out crowd.
“Cassell is just amazing to play in,” Ekh said. “One of the refs actually came up to me a few games ago and commented on how much he loved the atmosphere. You don’t always see such an exciting environment in women’s basketball as you do in Cassell.”
Living far away from family still presents challenges, but Ekh now has a second home with the players and coaches. She enjoys rooming with grad student Olivia Summiel, who played for four years at Wake Forest and understands the transfer experience.
For Ekh, the people are what truly elevate her Hokie experience into something extraordinary.
“Coach Brooks cares about us so much off the court and wants to build a relationship with every one of us,” Ekh said. “I’ve also never been on a team with this little drama, where everyone genuinely cares for each other. It’s such a great culture.”
Ekh is looking forward to putting her skills to the test against the best of the best down the stretch as the Hokies enter into the final month of ACC play. She aims to pursue a career in the EuroLeague after graduation, recognizing that her time at Tech will pave the way for her success.
Virginia Tech Athletics