Transition game

Published 9:02 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Former Washington Daily News Basketball Player of the Year Marcus Freeman (second from right) signs a National Letter of Intent to play basketball for Louisburg Junior College on Wednesday at Riverside High School. Looking on is his mother Pam (right) along with his father Marcus Sr. (left of Freeman), his brother Markel (left) and Louisburg coach Mark Vanderslice (back). (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

WILLIAMSTON — The big man finally made the big decision. After being wooed by junior colleges from as far away as Kansas, Riverside’s hulking 6’ 8” senior center Marcus Freeman decided to stay closer to home as he signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball for Louisburg Junior College on Wednesday.
Freeman, the 2010-11 Washington Daily News Basketball Player of the Year, said in the end it came down to Louisburg and Catawba Valley Community College, but he felt like Louisburg was the right fit on and off the court.
“I really liked the environment. It’s not just about basketball, it’s just a great school,” said Freeman, who plans on majoring in business administration.
This season Freeman averaged a double-double as he poured in 16.9 points and grabbed 14.1 rebounds a game for the Knights while swatting 2.1 shots and handing out two assists per contest.
Aside from being fond of the atmosphere at Louisburg, Freeman, along with his father Marcus Sr. and mother Pam, hit it off with Hurricanes coach Mark Vanderslice.
“He’s a great guy off the court, not just on the court,” Freeman said. “He made me feel real comfortable and he fit in with my family. I’m looking forward to playing for him.”
While Freeman was happy to finally decide where he will be playing the next season, Vanderslice was ecstatic to win the Freeman jackpot.
“I’ll tell you why I’m so excited. I think his size and stature speak for itself. Those are the obvious things. A lot of the things that people don’t see unless they have had a chance to watch Marcus over the long haul are all the intangibles that he brings,” said Vanderslice, whose Hurricanes went 30-6 and finished fifth in the nation last season. “One of the reasons why we recruited him so hard is because of the things you can’t measure. It was things like how many times did this young man go and pick up a teammate off the floor. I went to an all-star game and he dove on the floor for the ball twice. You just don’t see that, it’s unheard of. Those are the types of things that excite me more than anything else.”
What also excites Vanderslice is the fact that he is getting a Div. I caliber player for at least one season. Upon conclusion of his senior year Freeman’s choices of schools were limited to due to his academic status, but Vanderslice vowed to do his best to help propel the star center toward his dream of playing big time college hoops.
“The most important thing is his academics. I can talk (to Div. I coaches) till I’m blue in the face about how good he is as a basketball player but if he doesn’t become eligible it doesn’t matter,” Vanderslice said. “Meeting each other halfway is about me helping him to grow as a player and exposing him so that he can get to the next level because we feel like junior college is a means to an end, but his end of the bargain is to get it done in the classroom.”
It’s that kind of sincerity that sold the Freeman’s on Louisburg and on Wednesday Marcus Sr. felt his son picked the right school.
“Me and his mother are proud of him,” Freeman Sr. said. “I feel like it was the right choice. Our main concern was academics and after sitting down and talking to (Vanderslice) you could just tell he was being honest and straight with us and I felt like he would be the perfect one to help my son and teach him what he needs to know.”
The coach who helped him get to this point, Riverside’s Bobby Williams, echoed Marcus Sr.’s sentiment and felt Marcus Jr. will excel at Louisburg.
“I’m excited for Marcus. The future is bright for him, this is just a start,” Williams said. “He will get a two-year degree and is on the right track to go to a four-year school. Louisburg has a great coaching staff and he should fit in well there.”