Just last week, I sat in front of my computer and wrote about how Donnie Freeman was the only positive Syracuse fans could think of after the Orange’s 36-point beat down at the hands of North Carolina on January 13th. Since then, SU has won two straight games, the latter on a Quadir Copeland buzzer-beating three against Miami, and order is restored in Central New York.
But, on Monday, Freeman’s name emerged again a week after the Hoop Hall Classic, when Syracuse’s coaches saw him play. This time, it was because a number of the main recruiting ranking services updated their class of 2024 rankings, and Freeman mostly went up. On 247 Sports, Freeman is 21st overall, on ESPN he’s 19th, and 21st on On3.
In an article by Paul Biancardi, the National Recruiting Director for ESPN for basketball, he had this to say about Adrian Autry’s prized recruit:
“Freeman had a good summer and made a big jump this fall in his play and productivity,” Biancardi said. “All the various aspects of his game are coming together as he has speed, vertical bounce and a long, athletic frame. Freeman also displays touch and developing footwork on offense. He is averaging 22 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 50% overall. Syracuse has been enormously successful with players of similar profile and talent in the past. Freeman’s consistency and burgeoning impact for IMG has been notable this year”
There are a lot of things to digest from Biancardi’s analysis, but it’s the second-to-last sentence that sticks out. Think about other long, athletic, wing players that have had success at Syracuse just in the last 20 years or so. It goes all the way back to Hakim Warrick in the early 2000s, then Wesley Johnson, Kris Joseph, CJ Fair and Jerami Grant, Chris McCullough, and Oshae Brissett in the 2010s, just to name a few guys between 6’7 and 6’11 who had tremendous talent and developed at SU before playing professionally. Some had more success in the NBA than others, but the overall point is that there is a prototype to work with here, and Freeman fits.
Autry said it himself last week, Freeman could help this year’s team right now, and with the inconsistency shown at the wing and forward positions, Biancardi’s last sentence about how the DMV area native is consistent and having an impact for a national high school program is music to Syracuse fans’ ears. Freeman is in a unique class of recruit, as he’s in the company of players like Benny Williams, the aforementioned McCullough, Rakeem Christmas, Tyler Ennis, Dion Waiters, and Michael Carter-Williams. Some of those players have been Syracuse heroes, others not so much. Freeman has a chance to make a legacy as the next great Orange forward, and the expectations are sure to be sky-high after this latest recruiting bump.