Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

MEN’S BASKETBALL | Efficient Freeman Will Go Down as GU Great

From a freshman shooter off the bench, to a complementary starter, to one of the nation’s smoothest offensive players, senior guard Austin Freeman has experienced a transformation over his four years wearing No. 15 for Georgetown.

After becoming the first DeMatha product to play on the Hilltop in 20 years, Freeman began his Hoya career as a reserve, but in just his second college game he scored 10 points in 23 minutes in a win over Michigan. Showing poise and value as a spot-up shooter, he burst into the starting lineup, replacing Patrick Ewing Jr. (COL ’08), for then-No. 7 Georgetown on New Year’s Eve 2007 and scored 12 points in a blowout victory over Fordham.

Georgetown fans’ first real glimpse of Freeman’s big game potential came in the de facto Big East regular season championship against Louisville at Verizon Center. He hit three clutch three-pointers and poured in 15 points as the Hoyas defeated the Cardinals, 55-52. As a freshman, he averaged 9.1 points per game on impressive 51.3 percent shooting from the field.

But the following season Freeman and the entire Georgetown program had a year they would love to forget. The Hoyas got out to a 12-3 start, during which the pride of Mitchellville, Md., notched 18 points in wins over Maryland and Memphis and 19 points in a victory over Syracuse.

What followed was a sudden plummet. Head Coach John Thompson III’s team ended its 2008-2009 season losing 12 of its final 16 games, and Freeman faded as well.

Although he got hurt toward the end of the year, he appeared noticeably slower for most of the season and rarely looked like anything more than a role player. He bumped his scoring average to 11.4 points per game and rebounded more, but his three-point percentage went from 40 percent as a freshman to a shade over 30 percent as a sophomore.

Coming into his junior season, though, he and fellow guard and longtime friend Chris Wright had no choice but to lead. With no seniors on the roster, Freeman became the Hoyas’ most experienced player. After a rigorous offseason, he came in lighter and more agile, and it showed. Over Georgetown’s first 13 games, he averaged 14 points, but the moment that Freeman turned into one of college basketball’s premier scorers came with the Blue and Gray down 15 at the half against UConn on Jan. 9, 2010.

With Georgetown searching for someone to step up, something seemed to click for Freeman, who went off for 28 of his 33 points in the second half of a 72-69 win. Until he was diagnosed with diabetes late in the regular season, at which point Wright and sophomore center Greg Monroe began to carry more of the offensive load, he turned himself into a second-team all-Big East player and was on the fringe of All-America conversations. For the season, he averaged 16.5 points and likely career highs of 52.5 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three-point range.

The emergence that started in earnest during the second half of the UConn game was enough to influence Big East coaches in selecting the senior as the preseason conference player of the year this season. While he won’t win the actual award come March — thanks to Kemba Walker and dark-horse candidate Marshon Brooks — the captain has been nothing short of efficient and clutch in his fourth and final season. He scored 31 points against Missouri, fought through a difficult shooting slump and went for 25 points at Rutgers, 28 points at Seton Hall and in perhaps his best game as a Hoya, 30 points and six assists at Villanova.

An ankle sprain has slowed Freeman down the stretch in 2011, but with the regular season about to end and the Big East and NCAA tournaments on the horizon, he has more time to add to his Georgetown legacy. With Wright out for the time being with a broken hand, the Hoyas hope he has saved his best for last as they try to salvage a season that has looked at times to have Final-Four potential.

Currently 10th on Georgetown’s all-time scoring list, Freeman could leave the Hilltop ranked as high as sixth all-time, barring injury. Despite his teams’ disappointing finishes so far, there is no doubt that Freeman — as calm, cool and collected as they come — will go down as one of the best and most reliable offensive players in Georgetown history.

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