Going from high school to college is rarely a seamless transition. There are speed bumps and obstacles that can deter one's long-term goals. For division one athletes, the road is exponentially bumpier due to practices, games and meetings piled on top of school work.
The same sentiments for Junior College basketball players can be expressed as they go step further into the collegiate ranks. Learning more complex plays, adjusting to the physicality of Division one basketball and being called upon to produce from day one can be daunting for any top JUCO recruit. Former Hutchinson C.C (Kansas) and current Rutgers Scarlet Knights junior Deshawn Freeman has made an admirable first impression for the Scarlet Knight faithful so far.
Freeman entered New Brunswick as a decorated junior college prospect with hopes of early playing time - seemingly one of the most important facets of junior college recruiting as prospects usually have a maximum two years of eligibility. With a sturdy 6'7, 220 pound frame, Freeman is getting the chance to compete and show off his rugged offensive sill set.
Efficiency has been one of Freeman's strongest attributes in the small sample size of games played thus far. Through the first three games, Freeman is averaging 12.3 points, five rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and one steal per game in 24 minutes, per ESPN. The former Rocky Mountain Preparatory (NC) standout is not one to stray away from the basket. Freeman hasn't tallied any three pointers attempted, but with a 61.5 field goal percentage, there is no reason to allow that figure to dwindle down by playing away from strengths on the court.
Enhancing a team-first mindset and embracing the culture established by head coach Eddie Jordan has also worked out so far for Freeman. In an interview with Jerry Carino of Asbury Park Press, Freeman amplified his reasoning behind committing to Rutgers by saying, "I wanted to go somewhere I could play right away." With the mindset of starting right away, Freeman has grown accustomed to providing a spark off the bench in the first two games. A starting role could present itself as the season progresses, but for now, Freeman is being the consummate teammate by staying focused and making winning contributions to lead the Scarlet Knights - Freeman tallied 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists, three steals and one block in 29 minutes of action against Howard on November 15.
Replacing Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack is still a work in progress in terms of team leadership, but their combined 26.4 points per game average seems to have been passed on to Freeman and freshman phenom Corey Sanders. The two have combined to average 30 points a game through two games.
The on-court product for Rutgers has been lackluster in the Big Ten so far, and the response from Scarlet Knights fans has been tepid at best. However, the signs of growth are there. Sanders brings a sense of excitement that's been missing from the program for ages and the steady play of Freeman has given coach Jordan versatility and accountability off the bench or as a starter when called upon. It's early, but there is no denying Deshawn Freeman's instant impact with the Scarlet Knights.