Big expectations

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Riverside senior 6-8 center Marcus Freeman (left) scores a bucket during a game against Plymouth last Friday. Freeman, last year’s WDN Player of the Year, is having another stellar season as he is averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds a game for the Knights. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

WILLIAMSTON — It was only a few minutes after Riverside’s 60-40 loss to Four Rivers Conference rival Plymouth last Friday but the game was not over for Knights’ center Marcus Freeman.
While Most of the players were far removed from the court, the 6-8, 230-pound reigning Washington Daily News Player of the Year was surrounded by various college coaches competing for the big man’s services. That’s what happens when you average 21 points and 14 rebounds a night.
The winner of that game is yet to be determined. As of now, Freeman’s focus is internal as he tries to figure out the best way to prepare himself for when that time comes.
“Coming off of a double-double season, a player of the year season, a lot of people have high expectations,” Freeman said.
That’s the burden that comes with the blessing of his hulking 6-8 frame. So far the senior has done his best to meet those expectations as he has recorded a double-double in all but two games this season and has increased his scoring average by six points from last year.
Last season was Freeman’s first on the varsity level and while his breakout  performance as a junior caught the eye of many scouts, it has also brought him some unwanted extra attention this season.
“I’m definitely seeing more double teams than I’ve seen last year,” Freeman said.
Despite the stellar stats, most would say Freeman is still raw. Athletically, the senior is a near perfect specimen as he tall, and with a muscular frame, far from lanky. When he has the ball in the paint that you can see where he still needs to cook a little longer. His drop step could use some refining and the ability to shoot with his left hand needs to be developed. However, it’s when the ball bounces off the rim and goes up in the air that you can see his natural ability and instinct take over.
“He’s become more aggressive and he’s probably our most focused player before a game. He’s literally taken over five or six of our last seven games,” Riverside coach Bobby Williams said. “Marcus plays well with his back to the basket and has decent moves in the post. The big thing with Marcus is that he’s cleaning up that glass. He’s there when we drive it to get that rebound and he’s done a lot of the dirty work for us.”
As Freeman continues to develop his game, he also continues to expand Riverside’s chances of making a deep playoff run. His 21 points per game average would be the envy of most players, and his coach is trying to see that number increase.
“Marcus means a tremendous amount to this team and we’re lucky to have him,” Riverside coach Bobby Williams said. “A guy with his size, we have to learn to give him the ball more … I think he’s the top big guy in this area.”
It would be hard to argue that. As of  Wednesday Riverside’s record was 11-4 (5-1) and in each of those losses Freeman has fouled out.
Last season the Knights racked up a 23-8 record and made it to the NCSAA 1-A East Regional round of the playoffs. This year, Freeman is looking to improve on that as well.
“I definitely see us getting past regionals if we get there,” Freeman said. “We have a great team and we all push each other hard in practice and during the game.”