Kiwi Pride – Matt Freeman commits to University of Oklahoma after his second showing at Adidas Nations
With the NBA as his ultimate goal, 6’9″ Kiwi stretch 4 Matt Freeman has committed to the University of Oklahoma as the next step in his journey from Auckland to playing pro basketball. The decision, which Freeman announced today, comes only days after his second appearance at the Adidas Nations tournament where he shot well from the 3 pt line.
The Adidas Championships Tour, organised and coached by Randy Livingston of LivOn Basketball, started in Las Vegas at the Adidas Uprising Championships and culminated in Long Beach where Team Asia Pacific played alongside the very best high school teams from across the USA, China, Africa, South America and Europe.
Signing with Oklahoma is a significant milestone in Freeman’s playing career, which started at an early age. “I was eight years old when I first started playing. I realized at a young age that I was gifted with height, and my Dad got me playing. When I was younger I wasn’t very coordinated, but I was taller than most everyone.”
Freeman’s height is a nice luxury, but the young man has put in a lot of hard work to develop a unique skill set that has helped him become a talented international prospect. Freeman explains, “I train every day. Most days it’s morning and night. In terms of diet, I don’t have a regimented diet, but thanks to my Mum she makes sure I eat well. My goal at the end of the day is to make the NBA, and I know if I don’t get out of bed in the morning other people will. If I want to make the league, I need to sacrifice sleep, and going out with friends to do all the hard training.”
Freeman also credits his parents, Jonathan and Louise Freeman, as having a major impact on his success to date. “My Mum plays a big role for me. I wouldn’t be here and the man I am today without her. She always has my back. She is always keeping me organized and providing me with the right food and making the right decisions. At the end of the day she is my biggest role model.”
“My Dad provides for all of us. He’s worked hard for my brother and I. He has allowed me to get the opportunities that I’ve been able to get. He’s given me my work ethic.”
In addition to his family, Freeman has learned to soak up knowledge from his coaching mentors during his career thus far as well. “All my coaches have been an influence on me. Just recently I’ve been doing some mentor performance training and that has been a huge help. Everyone that has supported me and influenced me over my basketball career has been huge for me,” Freeman added.
“At Nations last year, I was able to build my relationship with Randy Livingston. It was a big eye opener last year to play on such a big stage to play against such great players. I went in there not realizing what I was up against, I came in quite nervous at the beginning but built my confidence as it went along. This year I was much more prepared.”
2015 has been a big year for Freeman. In addition to Adidas Nations, he also had the opportunity to showcase his talents at the FIBA U18 3×3 World Championships, where the New Zealand team took the gold medal after beating a strong Argentinian team at the Finals in Hungary. The four man team consisted of Freeman, Sam Timmons, Tai Wynyard and Nikau McCullough.
Freeman described what that tournament meant to him, “the whole thing was pretty huge for us. We have all been friends for a long time so going over there with all my friends was all that much better that we won. We will cherish it for the rest of our lives. No team wanted it more than us. We went in there knowing it wouldn’t be easy. Wearing our names on our back with our country’s name on the front we took a lot of pride in that. We were excited to bring home a gold medal and trophy for the country. We didn’t feel pressure, but we felt motivation because we knew everyone was watching back home. We knew from the start that we had a team that could win. We didn’t underestimate Argentina in the final, but after beating Spain in the semifinal we felt like we could win the whole thing.”
Freeman also attended the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camp that took place at Baruch College in New York City in February, 2015, where Freeman was the sole Kiwi invitee, a fact he is very proud of. “I love representing my country, whether it’s part of a New Zealand team or as part of another team.” Freeman was joined at Adidas Nations this year by three of his Kiwi compatriots, with the rest of the team being made up of talented Aussies including William McDowell-White and Harry Froling.
Freeman’s decision to commit to Oklahoma, follows an extended period of recruiting where he was heavily pursued by several top-tier Division I schools including Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, USC and a couple others.
Shortly before making his decision to to commit to Oklahoma, Freeman told us his criteria included “being in a nice area, that is safe and I can feel at home. In terms of the team, a group of nice guys that I can get along with. A big thing is the coaching staff, and that they’re locked in. I want a coaching staff with stability. Style of play as well, I like to run the floor, so something that will allow me to stretch the floor as a big man. At the end of the day I’m also going to college to get a degree, so academics are important. I don’t know what I want to study yet, I have a few ideas but nothing I’m set on. I want to go somewhere that pushes me academically.” The University of Oklahoma certainly seems to be a good fit based on Freeman’s objectives.
Freeman is clear on his goals for the short term and his long term future, “Depending on how quickly I develop, I like the idea of finishing college and getting my degree before I decide declaring for the draft. I’m just taking one day at a time for now,” Freeman said.