January 31, 2011

Is Freeland heading East?

Kevin McCarthy

When you stand 6-foot-10, the ‘how’s the weather up there?’ jokes become lame in about a nano-second. Equally as impaired to someone tall is the inquiry ‘do you play basketball?’ Are those who scale in at 300+ pounds forever pestered about sumo wrestling? It’s as if interest, let alone sport specific skills developed through time and effort account for nothing and labeling based on a single characteristic reigns. Let it be known that Ben Freeland became attached to basketball at a very early age, long before his current height became apparent.

photo of Ben Freeland

The 6-foot-10 205-pound Montgomery High (Santa Rosa) and Lakeshow (club basketball team) talent explains his sport attachment: "It’s a game I’ve had a passion for since I was four or five." Maybe genetics played a part and also possibly just being a member of the Freeland household as his father played in high school and walked on at Nevada after graduation.

Here’s Lakeshow’s Joe Fuca on Freeland: "I remember when I first saw Ben last Spring and he was playing for his high school Spring team and he was like a non-stop running machine for the whole game. He never slowed down for 40 minutes, he never subbed out, he never stopped getting rebounds and he was always happy. When I asked him to play for us, he interviewed me like it was a job interview. I told him the roots of Lakeshow and then he had his mom interview me. After all that, he joined us. He is a very mature young man."

Fuca continued, "Last July, when our top 17s team played for the championship in Los Angeles at the Adidas 3 Stripes tourney, Ben had played only four games with us to that point. During the semi-final game, our starting center BJ Smith (Rodriguez High in Fairfield) sprained his ankle. It was time for Ben to shine and help his team to the championship victory against the Double Pump-sponsored team out of Los Angeles. Needless to say, he was up for the challenge."

Freeland is ranked 20th in the latest 2011 Nor Cal Preps Top 40 but of major interest to a number of colleges.

This attraction is based on numerous factors.

One is certainly academics. "I have a 3.1 cumulative grade point average," Freeland explained.


His basketball talents include "a jump hook, a double drop up-and-under move, his mid-range jumper and rebounding."


His versatility. About playing the four and/or the five at the next level, Freeland offered, "Coaches like that I can run the floor but also want me to add weight."


His open-mindedness. "With recruiting, I have no parameters. I want to go where I can play ball and get a good education."


Plus, his willingness to work towards continuous improvement. Asked about his evolution on the court from his freshman year to his senior season, Freeland said, "I’ve improved a whole bunch. I’m a lot more aggressive now I took a lot of plays off as a freshman -- not any more."


According to Fuca, Columbia has recently offered a full aid-based ride. That’s former St. Mary’s Coach Kyle Smith, now heading the Lions program, again reaching back to the Bay Area. Brian Barbour (Monte Vista High) is enjoying a breakout sophomore season for Smith and University Prep senior Noah Springwater has already committed to Columbia.

Freeland credits his two biggest basketball influences as Ned Averbuck, the longtime director of the Pete Newell Basketball Academy and Lawrence Phillips, Freeland’s mentor on physical development.

A query concerning how his friends would describe him displayed his sense of humor. "First, that I’m really tall." He added, "I’m very social and like to talk a lot about sports." He came from a different district upon entering high school so a whole new set of friends needed to be made. That has certainly also been achieved -- those his own age plus adult college coaches.