|Jersey Number||# 9|
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Eiji Sawakita (沢北栄治 Sawakita Eiji) is considered Japan's # 1 High School Player, and is the ace of Sannoh.
Unlike many other characters who are extremely skilled as he is, he presents a goofy attitude sometimes, and has comical moments of extreme shock when an opponent does something unexpectedly impressive. It was known that he's a high profile player like Rukawa and has various fangirls that send him fan mails. His teammate; Masashi, on the other hand, has none and is jealous of him to the point that he will grip Sawakita's legs and make him cry in pain.
Eiji Sawakita is the best all-round player in Japanese High School basketball. His offensive ability is nearly unstoppable and is equally matched by his defensive ability. It is rumoured that no one in High School, not even College, can beat him in a 1 on 1 match.
Rukawa challenged him to a 1 on 1 match in the 2nd round of the National Championships, but Sawakita proves that he was the better player and effectively shuts down Rukawa from scoring, forcing him to change tactics. His offensive power is exceptionally strong as it's shown to force Rukawa's plays to fail everytime. This left Rukawa with only one choice, which is to pass the ball to his teammates. Sawakita is known to be the best player within the history of Sannoh as he is currently holding the title of "Japan's # 1 High School Player".
His defensive skills are just as strong as his offensive skills to the point where he considers that Rukawa's dribbling is weak since he almost stole the ball off him on a lot of occasions. He is currently unmatched in a 1 on 1 match. He also defeated Sendoh of Ryonan High in their Middle School days.
Sawakita has extraordinary speed and stamina that even surpasses Rukawa's tight defense easily. He passes over Akagi with a spin move with such speed that the latter has no time to react and then the former proceeds with a fast break. Under the pressure of the three giants in Shohoku, he still managed to change his shot in mid air and score with a reverse lay up. His signature shot is a tear drop shot with a release so high that it's impossible to block, even for Sakuragi. Even when far from the basket, Sawakita is an accurate three-point shooter who managed to pull down Shohoku's lead in the first half of their game. He can also convert an and-1 despite being fouled. Based on the manga, Sawakita's offensive ability is unstoppable and it is certain that he can score over anyone.
His tight defense gives no loopholes for his opponents. When using the Full-court press, Sawakita pressured Miyagi to make the wrong move in passing. Even when playing 1 on 1 defense with Rukawa, the latter was unable to score, with Sawakita in front of his face and giving no opportunity to make a basket. The perfect Rukawa who is idolised in Shohoku's gathered perspectives is just a player with many offensive loopholes for Sawakita. On numerous occasions, it was Sawakita who steals the ball from Shohoku. His defensive skills are also at a level in which he doesn't give the opponent any opening or any opportunity to even get past him when he's 100% focusing in the game. Once he's focused, his defensive skills are just about indestructible.
No matter how seasoned his skills were, his playing style is as selfish as Rukawa's had been which caused Sannoh to lose the game.
Sakuragi's conclusion turned out correctly because Sawakita was very confident with his shooting abilities which meant that he won't ever pass. Sakuragi told Akagi to leave Masashi and focus on blocking Sawakita instead. Sakuragi then purposely let himself get passed to setup Akagi for the block allowing them to successfully block Sawakita's shot. The main reason for this is his initial growth in basketball prior to when he first joined a basketball team. Sawakita's mindset was based around 1 on 1 plays, which was developed as he played against his father when he was only a child. Simply put, his mindset; derived from countless matches against his father, caused him to make the mistake of being unaware of other opponents under the rim. Furthermore, he is also shown to only focus on one thing while playing. If he starts thinking about two or more things such as a second man appearing to double-team on him, he loses his focus in the game. Just like what Sakuragi did to him.
Sawakita was taught basketball by his father Tetsuharu "Tetsu" Sawakita, who played him one-on-one since he was four years old. The first present received by Eiji was a basketball when he was just an infant. Eiji got bored of playing with the toy net in his house and that is when his father bought a house with a semi basketball court and with a real basketball net. His father would then play with him every sunrise and sunset.
Primary and Junior High days
There was no basketball club in primary school and Eiji played with his father with the goal of beating his father. When he entered Junior high, he finally beat his father. In the club he easily beat his seniors who were starters in tournaments, commenting that playing with them is boring. His seniors were unhappy with his cocky attitude and beat him out of jealousy.
Later on, Sawakita beat Sendoh when they played each other in Junior High. Sendoh notes that he's the only person that he lost to before in a 1 on 1 match. Sawakita is also probably the best player in his Middle School days as he is currently Japan's # 1 High School Player right now.
He also went to America to play basketball during his first year of High School and he also mastered the technique needed for the journey to america; the Tear Drop Shot (this was noted by Masashi when he used the technique against Sakuragi since he knows he can jump high. Masashi praised Sakuragi for making Sawakita used the move he mastered for his journey to America).
After Slam Dunk
It is shown in Slam Dunk: Ten Days After that Sawakita is on board a plane to America. He struggles with his English and ended up getting drunk when he asked for too much wine from the air stewardess.
- He could've been based on NBA player Michael Jordan because the way he plays seems like it's unstoppable. A great shooter, acrobatic layups but the only thing that differs him to MJ is jumping ability because Sawakita can't dunk from the foul line like MJ could do.
- Another reason why Sawakita may in fact be based on MJ is his name. "Sawa" (沢) means swamp, and "Kita" (北) means north. Jordan played for the Tar Heels at the Univerity of NORTH carolina during his college days; the state of North Carolina was known for its tar pits, so the nickname for its inhabitants was "Tar Heel".
- Even though he can score around Sakuragi, he still considered the latter a threat because of his jumping ability. He hesitates about dunking the ball when facing against Sakuragi (because he jumps too high). Eventually he was blocked from behind by Sakuragi while trying to perform a dunk.
- Sendoh misremembers his name as "Kitasawa" while talking with Rukawa.