Isaac Freeman, the Osbourn 7-footer who developed into a major defensive force two seasons ago on the Eagles’ first boys’ basketball team to qualify for the state tournament, committed Monday to the University of Massachusetts.
Freeman, who played at Connecticut prep school South Kent this past season, had offers from DePaul, Missouri and others but ultimately chose U-Mass. over Drexel. Both were programs that had been recruiting him since high school.
“I just wanted to be about the teams that were the most loyal to me and that have been looking at me ever since Day One, even when I wasn’t very good,” said Freeman, a standout on an Osbourn team that went 24-3 his senior year in 2010-11. “They saw the bad times when I couldn’t make it or I struggled and they saw that I worked and I got through all the hardships that one faces in basketball.”
Freeman plans to study computer science at U-Mass. The coach, Derek Kellogg, is a U-Mass. graduate and former George Mason University assistant who went on to work for several years at Memphis under John Calipari. The Minutemen (25-10) lost to Stanford in the NIT semifinals this season.
Freeman felt a rapport with the U-Mass. players on his visits there and likes the Atlantic 10 Conference school’s uptempo style of play. In Amherst, he will join Javorn Ferrell (Riverdale Baptist) and Raphiael Putney (Woodbridge), the team’s second-leading scorer this past season, and former Wise player Maxie Esho.
The most important choice for Freeman, who got cut from his middle school team and did not play high school varsity basketball until his junior year, might not have been the decision he made Monday but the decision he made last year to not go to college directly out of Osbourn. Freeman said at South Kent he has diversified his offensive game in particular, polishing his 12- to 15-foot jump shot, which in turn has boosted his confidence.
“The transition from high school to college would have extremely damaged my self-esteem and the way I thought of what college would be like,” Freeman said. “I thought the transition in the beginning of the school year was very, very hard. But once I started getting used to it, I accepted it and loved it.”
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