After a tumultuous record in its first Big Ten season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are in full rebuilding mode and will need all hands on deck in order to turn the program around in year two. Head coach Eddie Jordan and his staff have been on a bit of a recruiting upswing, with former ESPN four-star and current freshman point guard Corey Sanders and 2016 four-star commit Kwe Parker, but more pieces will have to step up in order to complete the necessary turnaround.
One of the major questions facing the Scarlet Knights in 2015 is who will replace Kadeem Jack and Miles Mack. With a skill set that fits Eddie Jordan's up-tempo philosophy, Hutchinson Community College (KS) forward Deshawn Freeman could fit in nicely for Rutgers in 2015.
At 6'6" and 210 pounds, Freeman brings an exciting blend of size, versatility and athleticism to help contribute at multiple positions. Freeman could see significant minutes at the small forward position, as he possesses great size for the wing, but could play power forward if Jordan and his staff decide to play small ball.
Offensively, Freeman should make an impact by attacking the rim and getting easy baskets in the paint. Freeman uses his slashing ability to get to the rim for easy alley-oop opportunities or turnaround jump shots on the low block. The freshman could also be utilized as a slasher to the high post or short corner if the opposing team opts to run a 2-3 zone.
Freeman is not only a viable scoring option around the basket, but he's also a very skilled passer for a prospect of his length and skill set. With the ability to see over the top of defenders and making quick decisions, Freeman can see over double teams and make the right play.
The area of the game where Freeman could make the biggest impact is on defense due to his length and activity on that end of the court. Freeman could be a critical piece on defense, as he's active enough to break up passing lanes and create turnovers and initiate fast breaks.
Areas for Improvement
Freeman admitted that he needs to improve his shooting when he committed to Rutgers and that still holds true as the season is about a month away. He possesses the ability to pump fake and put the ball on the floor, but without a consistent shot defenses will sag off and dare him to shoot.
At only 210 pounds, Freeman will need to get stronger in order to endure the physical nature of the Big Ten. If Freeman were to play a small ball power forward, he could become a liability on defense against bigger opponents and on the offensive and defensive glass.
Freeman is an intriguing prospect who could step in right away and fill an immediate need. With two years of eligibility remaining, there is a solid chance Rutgers fans get accustomed to seeing Freeman running with freshman point guard Corey Sanders on a fast break opportunity. Rutgers may not have much buzz right now, but with Eddie Jordan recruiting at a higher level and bringing in skilled, athletic players, there is reason for optimism in New Jersey.