Time away from game paid off for ODU's Trey Freeman on the court and off
How Freeman wound up at ODU and put himself in position to be a SportsCenter darling for a night is something he will never forget. It had everything to do with family and nothing to do with basketball.
Freeman came home for spring break in 2013 following his sophomore season at Campbell University. At that time his mother, Miriam, was suffering from osteomyelitis, a bone infection. When considering his mother’s condition Freeman decided that he needed to be closer to home.
Coming off a season in which he was named All-Big South Second Team, which followed a season in which he was named the conference’s top freshman, a transfer would be best so that he could go to school closer to the family’s Virginia Beach home. ODU is about 20 miles away in Norfolk.
The decision has proven to be beneficial and all the more rewarding when considering Miriam is doing well.
“She has really recovered from the illness and is able to come to my games,” said Freeman, who spoke highly of his time at Campbell. “I am very thankful for that. When my mom got sick it put everything in perspective. I am a mama’s boy, so I had to come back home and make sure everything was good with her. My heart was back home with my family and I wanted to help out however I could.”
Freeman went about resuming his college basketball career at ODU. As a transfer, however, he had to redshirt the 2013-14 season. That was not an easy experience for a player who was second-team all-state in high school and with two very productive college seasons on his resume.
“It is hard when you do not compete for a whole year,” he said. “You still put in the work and everything, but you feel like you are excluded from the team because you can’t show how you can help the team. It was a humbling experience and I learned a lot about myself that year. It taught me that you cannot take anything for granted.”
He certainly did not take anything for granted. Instead he worked like the dickens and when he was able to play for the Monarchs last season Freeman averaged a team-best 16.9 points. He earned Conference USA First Team honors and was named the conference’s newcomer of the year.
All the while Freeman has done very well in the classroom, which is not a surprise. With Miriam’s career in education, including as an elementary school principal, Freeman understands the value of schoolwork. He has numerous academic accolades to his credit, not the least of which was being selected to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court.
“It means a lot to be honored in that way,” he said. “Honestly, I just try to make my parents proud. Mom and dad always told me how important school is and at young age they told me how rare it is for somebody to go on and play professional basketball. They always supported me with basketball, but kept it realistic. I just always had the mindset to work hard in school and that has always worked well for me.”
Freeman received his bachelor’s in communications and is currently a graduate student taking courses in sports management. While he would like to take his game to the professional ranks – “my dream is to play in the NBA” — at some point he would like to pursue a career in coaching or even as an athletic director.
For now, though, it is all about doing his best for the Monarchs in his final season of eligibility. Chances are he will not be outworked. After all, Freeman is known for working on his game multiple times per day, at any time of day and even on holidays if he feels it necessary.
“I just love to play basketball and I take it seriously,” said Freeman, who was averaging 15.1 points through ODU’s first nine games. “I like to perfect different drills and if it means coming back at night to master a shooting a drill, then you will probably see me at night trying to figure it out.”
It is clear that Freeman has a lot figured out.