Former Georgetown guard Austin Freeman was back at Verizon Center this morning, except this time it was in front of only several dozen on the auxiliary court for a Wizards pre-draft workout rather than the 10,000-plus who came to watch the All-Met from DeMatha take center stage in Big East showdowns.
Looking considerably leaner than his listed playing weight of 235 pounds with the Hoyas, Freeman showed the shooting touch that made him a first-team all-Big East selection as a senior. During a drill near the end of the workout, Freeman made 10 of 11 jumpers from each end of the foul line, including seven in a row after an unsteady beginning.
That caught the attention of Wizards Coach Flip Saunders, who delivered words of encouragement to Freeman, 6 feet 4, as he sank one shot after another. At the conclusion of the workout, Saunders gathered all six NBA hopefuls who participated, including former T.C. Williams standout Mike Davis (Illinois), at center court and stressed the importance of conditioning during this audition process.
Freeman has become the embodiment of that, having shed 20 pounds by his estimation since embarking on a regimented workout schedule a month and a half ago. The new commitment to fitness includes several intense workouts a day and more attention to his diet, which initially changed when Freeman was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in his junior season.
“I feel a little quicker, more bounce,” said Freeman, who led the Hoyas in scoring at 17.6 ppg this past season.
While at Georgetown, Freeman did his best work from outside, but now with more agility thanks to his training regimen, he is trying to prove to NBA general managers he can be a consistent threat getting into the lane as well. Freeman was able to do that several times during the portion of the workout media were permitted to watch, and that penetration created open shots from three-point range for teammates in a three-on-three drill.
Projected as perhaps a second-round pick in this month’s draft, Freeman’s senior season was not as productive as he had hoped. He was voted Big East preseason player of the year, but he endured some difficult stretches when his offensive contributions went all but unnoticed.
In many instances, teammate Chris Wright became the focus of the offense with daring drives deep into the lane, and when Wright broke his hand in a 58-46 loss to Cincinnati, the Hoyas never were the same. Freeman, meantime, struggled from the field during that time, going 20 for 59 overall and 4 of 23 from three-point range in the three games Wright missed.
“Just to prove that I belong in this league, that I can do what I can to help any team that I get picked by to win,” Freeman said when asked what he’s trying to show NBA decision-makers during predraft workouts. “Just to be able to show I can score the ball, I can shoot and can defend.”