Matt Freeman (207-F-1997, college: UCSB) is a 25 year old forward from New Zealand that is playing his third professional season in Germany and first with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven currently averaging 9,5ppg, 5,6rpg and 1,8apg. Last season he played with PS Karlsruhe averaging 10.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 43.5%, FT: 86.5% an din his first season played with the ROMERSTROM Gladiators Trier (Germany-ProA) averaging 11.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 69.0%. He got his first basketball experience in New Zealand with the North Adelaide Rockets and then went to the States from 2014-2020. He played at Westlake high school and then at the University of Oklahoma (NCAA) from 2016-2019 playing a total of 84 games. He then finished at the University of California Santa Barbara (NCAA) averaging 9.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 88.5%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Thanks Matt for talking to germanhoops.com. This is your third professional season and third German Pro A team. Is it fair to say that Germany has become like a second home for you?
I think at this point Germany will always be a part of me. Being such a traveller I think I have many second homes now so really home for me will always be in New Zealand. But nonetheless I have loved my experience in Germany thus far and I’m excited for all that is to come!
You had a very good game against Bremerhaven with Trier and overall had a 2-1 record against them. What was your memories in general about this team?
Obviously this will be a new team with a new coach so the play style will be different. Though, from my experience they always play with a high intensity and score a lot of points.
What is your general impression of head coach Steven Key. What stood out most about his basketball philosophy and character?
With my conversation with Coach Key I felt our feelings were mutual on how work ethic should be, playing basketball as a unit and not individually, and building strong relationships throughout the team and organization to reach the highest level of success. I’m excited to get to work and play for him!
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 208cm forward. To what NBA player would you compare your game to?
I’ve always looked at guys like Ryan Anderson & Kevin Love as they’re power forwards who can shoot the ball extremely well. But I also love the way they understand their role and are solid in other areas of the game that help themselves and their team to be successful.
You’re a 208cm forward. Would you classify yourself a modern day big man?
I think big men today are definitely able to shoot the ball a lot better than they used to. So in that regard yes. But I also consider myself to be more of a point forward who can bring the ball up and control tempo so I think that side of my game is more uncommon in today’s big man.
You can fill the stat sheet. Would you also call your versatility one of your bigger strengths?
For sure. I’ve always prided myself in my passing ability as a big man and obviously the way I shoot the ball. I think basketball is a game where you don’t have to do it all but being able to/being as versatile as possible only increases your worth as a player. I continue to work on all aspects of my game because I love the game and there’s always so much more to learn every day you put in the work.
On what area’s of your game are you working on most now so you can continue to improve your game as you move up the basketball ladder?
I think for me this off season has been about physical growth and learning how to draw contact and finish whilst still being balanced. I think it’s a simple concept but a hard one to master. I’m liking where I’m at with it now and excited to see it translate into this season.
Last season you got many passes from Stanley Whittaker. What did you appreciate most about his game and will he make the next step in the easyCredit BBL?
Stan is an incredible player and loved him as a team mate. We had a great relationship and I think what we appreciated most about each other was our mutual respect/passion for the game and the ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality to win. Even if we were down 20 I could always count on him not to give up. I have no doubt wherever Stan is he will be successful.
What do you feel is still missing from your game to reach the easyCredit BBL?
I think my answer is similar to what I said about what I am currently working on. But in addition to that I think my continuous physical growth will help me defensively to guard multiple positions. Being able to do that makes you valuable at the highest of levels in basketball.
You played your rookie season with the Romerstrom Gladiators. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I think the biggest wake up call was being out in public and not having people speak English. I’m terrible at learning languages so it will always be hard for me but definitely something I have gotten used to. Other than that the feeling of playing basketball for a job. Knowing that at any moment you could be sent home is a big reality check. Definitely a motivating factor to never stop working hard.
How tough was going into your rookie season with Covid. You got signed very late. Did you ever lose hope in the basketball process?
It was very tough mate. There was a very long period of drought in finding a job. I actually did start to look into other opportunities outside of basketball but I never stopped working on my game in case that call came, and thankfully it did.
You hail from New Zealand. How much of a role did your experience at Westlake high school play a role in you deciding to go to the NCAA?
Westlake was an awesome high school. I made life long best friends but also it put me in a pool of great Basketballers. Many of whom went to college in the US before me. So I think the exposure to that environment definitely convinced me to play in the NCAA but it was also a dream of mine even prior to going to high school there.
You played 3 seasons at the University of Oklahoma. Your NCAA career began well scoring 15 points in a loss to Northwestern State in your first NCAA game. You showed quickly that you knew how to be efficient in the minutes you got. Despite never averaging more than 11 minutes per game in a season what benefits did your 3 years there under Lon Kruger give you?
Coach Kruger has a long history of knowledge in the game of basketball. I think it was a great opportunity to learn through his experience what it takes to be successful. Although that time didn’t exactly come at OU with him I think it’s fair to say it helped me in becoming the player I became when I transferred to UCSB.
What do you remember from the intense battles with Jamuni Mcnease who played in Germany some years ago? I’m sure the work in daily practices made you better despite you not getting as many minutes?
Jamuni was my room mate and my best mate for life. I talk to him all the time. He knows I’ll give him buckets any day & time of the week. But no doubt, my brother Muni is a tough dude who I’ve seen do some of the most athletic things ever. I’m excited at the opportunity to play with him again some day.
What was your memories of NBA superstar Trae Young? What kind of bond did you have to the freshman? Do you still have contact to him or is he in his own world now?
Funnily enough Trae and I actually dated different girls who were on the dance team so we spent a fair bit of time with each other off the court. But he was obviously a natural superstar from high school onwards. I still have his contact but we haven’t spoken in a few years since he made the NBA.
You then finished at the University of California Santa Barbara (NCAA) averaging 9.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 88.5% Was the 69-67 Cal Poly win in your last NCAA game one of your best wins ever?
My brother Jaquori hit the game winner!
How did head coach Joe Pasternack groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
As intense as Coach P is, I will be eternally grateful for everything he did for me. He restored faith in me that I can play basketball professionally at the highest level. As hard as he was on me, he did it because I needed it and he knew it would bring out the best in me, which it did.
Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Amadou Sow?
Love Amadou, tough ass kid. We had great battles. But I’m taking me every time.
Who is the toughest player that you ever faced on the floor so far in your career that reached the NBA?
There’s been a few honestly but I remember Kenrich Williams at TCU, Jarrett Allen at Texas and probably Azubuike at Kansas. They were all damn tough.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
Man I almost can’t answer this. I’ve had some amazing team mates over the years. But if I have to answer I’d have to say the guys who are my life long friends who I still talk to all the time. Logan Hunt, Jamuni McNeace, Daniel Harper, CJ Cole, Patrick Geha & Ty Lazenby
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore
MJ, Lebron, Kobe, Shaq
What is your opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all time Jordan or Lebron?
I think it’s stupid to try and compare two different Eras. The game continues to evolve every year. Jordan was the goat in his generation and Lebron in his. Simple. If they had played in the same era then I have absolutely no idea. They would both be different players had they played in each other’s Eras.
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I heard not so good things about it so still haven’t seen it! Don’t want it to ruin the original for me!!
Thanks Matt for the chat.
Tags : MATT FREEMAN, EISBAEREN BREMERHAVEN, GERMAN BASKETBALL