The IPB had a front-row seat at a packed Gallaudet gym for tonight’s primetime WCAC championship showdown between DeMatha and St. John’s. The game was the third time this season that DeMatha’s Austin Freeman and St. John’s Chris Wright, two recently named McDonald’s All Americans and future Hoyas, have squared off against each other. In terms of the game, DeMatha won easily, as it raced out to leads of 9-0 and 20-4 and never looked back.
My scouting report on each player is as follows:
Georgetown fans are going to love what this kid brings next season. He is the complete player who has few flaws, if any. The first thing that I noted during warm-ups is how silky his outside shot is. His outside shots have tremendous arc and nice rotation (not as much rotation as Wallace’s shot but close). He spent most of the time during warm-ups stroking threes. One of his favorite spots to shoot the three is the corner and this was confirmed during the game. While Freeman is capable of shooting a mid-range jumper off the dribble, my sense is that he is a much better set shooter. In this way, his game contrasts with Wright’s, which is probably a good thing since they will complement one another (see more on Wright below).
Putting aside his shot, Freeman proved himself to be an excellent passer, as he frequently found his teammates while on the perimeter. He also occasionally drove to the hoop and dished to his teammates.
He moves very well without the ball, as he was the recipient on several occasions of backdoor passes and other passes coming off cuts and screens.
He is an excellent foul shooter. I do not believe he missed any of his attempts. In fact, one of my favorite moments during the game was a sequence when Freeman was fouled. As he stepped to the line, the DeMatha coach pulled all of his players off the free throw line for BOTH foul shots and effectively used the time while Freeman was shooting to have an unofficial timeout conference with his four starters while Freeman shot his two free throws. I have only seen this maybe once or twice before and thought it was a supreme show of confidence in Freeman’s free throw ability. Of course, Freeman nailed both.
Besides Wright, St. John’s had zero talent, so it was difficult to tell how effective Freeman will be on defense. But given how complete the rest of his game is, my guess is there is little reason for concern.
In fact, as good as Freeman was, I got the sense that he held back a bit tonight. Not because he is lazy or something, but because it wasn’t necessary for him to exert maximum effort given how comfortable DeMatha’s lead was throughout. He calibrated his performance to the circumstances. If this is true, it’s sick to even think about what he may be capable of if he is required to take it up a notch.
The two adjectives I would use to describe Chris Wright’s game are explosive and quick. His speed is going to blow you away. On offense, he is most effective while penetrating and slashing to the hoop. He has a good mid-range jumper coming off the dribble from the top of the key and looks even better when he slashes and shakes and bakes his way to the hoop for a quick two. He is going to beat a lot of players off the dribble. Take my word for it.
He is not nearly as strong as a set shooter and he is not nearly as good a three point shooter or with the long range two as Freeman. Don’t get me wrong—he is capable of hitting a shot from a set position and he is capable of hitting a three but he doesn’t look nearly as comfortable or confident from this position, especially from three point range. His outside shot is fairly flat and lacks arc, which is probably why his three-point shooting percentage is average.
On the plus side, he drew several fouls while taking it to the rack. On the downside, he failed to convert many of his free throw attempts. I do not know if his poor free throw shooting was an aberration. What I can say is that his free throw form looked fairly good but this is something to watch out for next season.
His defensive intensity was unparalleled amongst those on the court. He was up on his man all night while maintaining an excellent crouch position, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player move as fast down the court to get back on defense. I have seen too many squads simply beat us down the court this season in transition. Take my word for it—our transition defense will be much improved when Wright is on the floor.
Wright’s game seems to be the perfect complement to Freeman’s and vice-versa. They have the potential to be one of the most dynamic duos in the NCAA.
Both have high basketballs IQs although I would say Freeman’s is just a tad higher at this point.
(1) The camaraderie between Freeman and Wright, which was recently reported by the Washington Post, was evident tonight. About thirty minutes before the tip, Freeman and Wright sat at center court chatting and stretching together for about five minutes while their teammates warmed up at respective ends of the court. This comfort level was nice to see and bodes well for next year. I do not anticipate any ego issues between them.
(2) While the Freeman-Wright tandem is going to be a tremendous asset to the team, I couldn’t help but think that the biggest loser with their arrival is going to be Jeremiah Rivers. Unless a member of the WWFS quartet (Wallace-Wright-Freeman-Sapp) gets injured or is in serious foul trouble, I just don’t see how he gets much playing time next year and even perhaps once Wallace graduates.
(3) I am pleased to report that Coach Thompson (i.e., JTIII) made more than an appearance and was in the house for about 3/4 of the game.