As the fourth-leading scorer on the Potomac boys' basketball team this season, forward Tyrell Freeman was often overlooked despite being the state quarterfinalists' main interior presence.
So Freeman scoring 16 points Wednesday and being named the MVP of the NOVA Hoops Classic -- the inaugural version of an all-star game pitting Prince William County seniors against their Fairfax County peers -- was a flashy way to cap his not-so-flashy high school playing days.
It was also a way to perhaps jump-start a college career. Panthers Coach Kendall Hayes said he received calls from two schools inquiring about Freeman the day after the game, a 90-88 loss for the Prince William team at Marshall High School in Falls Church.
"He was very active and got on the offensive boards and had a lot of putbacks," Hayes said. "He played very aggressively. It's an all-star game, and post players aren't going to see the ball a lot, although it really was a well-played game. He just banged the boards and made the most of his opportunities. It certainly was an eye-opener for some college coaches to see [him]."
The 6-foot-4 Freeman averaged 7.2 ppg for the Panthers this season and finished strong defensively, with 11 rebounds in the Northwestern Region semifinal win over Woodbridge and 12 boards in the region final loss to Gar-Field.
"During the majority of the season, I didn't shine like everybody expected and wanted me to do," Freeman said. "People were coming up to me [saying], you should be doing this, you should be doing that. Even though I didn't really have a good season, I [emerged] when we really needed me to. I didn't feel right to have my teammates working hard and me sitting there and going through the motions."
Gar-Field senior forward Demetrius Howard, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the final minutes to help whittle a double-digit lead to two, was another standout for the Prince William squad. Howard and Stonewall Jackson guard Tyc Snow missed three-pointers late in the game that could have given their team the lead.
As far as Freeman is concerned, a win would have been nice, but that was not necessarily the primary objective of appearing in the game. Nor was attracting college interest.
"It wasn't about showing off for any kind of college coaches," he said. "It was just going out there and playing with my friends and having fun."