Player Spotlight: Enrique Freeman

April 20, 2024

By Ed Miller

Enrique Freeman is possibly the only player in the history of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament to be simultaneously pursuing both the NBA and his M.B.A.

Freeman will get his graduate business degree from the University of Akron in a couple of weeks.

“I’ve got a few more assignments,” he said Friday night, after scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds for Roger Brown’s in a semi-final game.

And the NBA? Freeman is working on that, too, showing off his intriguing blend of length, versatility, energy and intelligence in front of league scouts at Churchland High.

Everyone at the PIT has a story. Freeman’s is one of the more compelling. His journey has been well-chronicled but it’s worth recapping.

With nary an offer coming out of high school in Cleveland, Freeman enrolled at Akron on an academic scholarship, with no plans to play basketball. Talked into trying out for the team by friends and family, he made the squad as a walk-on in 2019-20 and played in seven games.

The following year, he was named to the MAC All-defensive team. The year after that, he led the nation in field goal percentage and was named MAC defensive player of the year.

Two years ago, he made All-MAC. This past season, Freeman recorded 30 double-doubles, one shy of matching David Robinson’s Division I record, and averaged 18.6 points, a national-best 12.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, on his way to being named MAC Player of the Year.

Not bad for someone who couldn’t get a look coming out of high school.

“I had a Division 3 school bring me in for a little overnight recruiting thing, but they didn’t call me back,” Freeman said.

In fairness, Freeman was four inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than his current 6-8 and 210 pounds.

Freeman played center for the Zips last season but projects as a small forward at the next level. His relative lack of experience suggests that he has plenty of upside.

“I’ve got to keep improving on the perimeter, and show I can defend all positions,” he said.

His M.B.A. is in interdisciplinary studies.

“The curriculum covers finance, accounting, HR, everything,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity, when I’m done, to figure out what part of business I like most.”

Freeman is hoping he won’t have to use the degree for a while, until after a long basketball career.

“Every step of my life I had to earn it,” he said. “I still feel like I have to earn it, so I’m playing with a grace, and just playing hard, and playing with a high motor.”

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