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Joel Freeland, England
ESPN.com: I throw the name Joel Freeland at you.
The 19-year-old, 6-10 forward shocked a lot of people when he became the first Brit ever taken in the first round of the draft by the Blazers this summer. Nobody was more shocked than Freeland himself, not least because he had never even touched a basketball until he was 16.
One NBA scout told me pre-draft he could see him developing into a Nowitzki-style player with his inside-out game and, having just spent a month covering him on international duty with the Great Britain team in their European Championship qualifying program, I can see what the fuss is about.
The kid has great mobility, foot speed, a nice touch, and is supremely coachable. Yes, he needs to hit the weight room (225 lbs) and he struggles to finish plays against older, bigger opponents. But he has two major things going for him: He is in a great system with Spanish team Gran Canaria and his attitude is phenomenal.
Gran Canaria did not want to release Freeland for GB duty this month and he quite simply could have stayed on the beach in the Canary Islands and worked out with his team. Instead, he risked an argument with his club and hauled himself around such European bright spots as Spisska Nova Ves in eastern Slovakia and Durres in Albania because he wanted to play for his country.
That attitude is just what the Blazers ordered. They have told him they will buy him out of his three-year Gran Canaria contract in two years and just watch how the youngster develops after that...
Name: Joel Daniel Freeland
Born: February 7, 1987
Origin: Aldershot, England but raised in Farnham, Surrey, England
Drafted: 2006, First Round, 30th overall by the Portland Trailblazers
Teams (jersey): CB Gran Canaria, Portland Trailblazers (14)
Ibn Notes: In 2005, an 18-year-old, 6-foot 10-inch teenager named Joel Freeland was working in a local supermarket stacking shelves, working to raise money for his own basketball development. Having only played a couple years of organized basketball, Joel was making leaps and bounds in his progress, so much so that he was assisted by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).
Fast forward to June 2006, and not many would
have thought that Freeland would have thought that he would be the first Brit to
be drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft. (and not even Freeland himself
would have guessed that).
Being drafted is one thing, being successful is
another. But from all accounts, it seems that Joel Freeland, along with
his height and natural athleticism, has the work ethic to make himself
successful. First things first, since the Portland Trailblazers sent Joel back to Europe for a couple years for further development, Joel will be focused on
helping England qualify for the 2012 Olympics and to play in the second-toughest league in the world, the Spanish league ACB.
|Joel Freeland Links From our forum: English Prospect Joel Freeland, English Basketball Forum, NBA Discussion Forum Articles and other resources: Freeland Blazes Into NBA (Sports Focus), Freeland Hoping to Make His Mark on Senior Service (London Times Online), Joel Freeland Photo Gallery (Yahoo!)|