Cards Pursue Talented Chicago PG Tony Freeman

<b>RECRUITING EXCLUSIVE</B> - In need of a point guard, University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is showing considerable interest in one Chicago's top junior prospects, St. Joseph's <b>Tony Freeman</b>.

St. Joseph's (IL) head coach Gene Pingatore knows a thing or two about great point guards. You see, Pingatore tutored NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas during his prep school days and he's sent numerous prospects onto success at the highest levels of college basketball.

Now, Pingatore has another super-talented point guard prospect in 5-foot-11 Tony Freeman.

"He's going to be a very good one," Pingatore said. "He's probably going to break our career total point record next season so that says a lot about his ability. He's going to score but he can pass, too."

"His work ethic is unbelievable," Pingatore continued. "Whichever school signs him will get someone who will really work hard every time out. He's an excellent on-ball defender, and is strong with the dribble. He just needs to develop more finesse with the ball and improve his off-ball defense."

Freeman, who averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and made 40-percent from three point range as a junior, led Pingatore's storied program to the Illinois State Sweet 16 this season before falling to Chicago Simeon just one game away from going 'Down State.'

Freeman, whose father was a freshman on Indiana's 1987 NCAA Championship squad, also shined last summer at the adidas ABCD camp where he was named to the underclass all-star game. He scored 18 points in that contest.

According to Pingatore, who is handling Freeman's recruitment, Notre Dame, Marquette, Purdue, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Louisville are the primary players for his standout point guard and have all indicated they'll be travelling to St. Joe's this spring to meet with both player and coach. Clemson could get in the mix but hasn't followed up like the others on the list have to this point.

Pingatore said Freeman would probably take no more than three official visits before making his decision next fall and explained the requirement a school must meet to receive a visit.

"I never let my players make an official visit to a school until they've met the head coach," Pingatore explained.

Most of the schools on Freeman's list are either currently in need of a lead guard or will be by the time Freeman graduates from the Westchester, Illinois school, which begs the question: Is immediate playing opportunity the most important factor?

"I would think so," Pingatore said.

Freeman, who favors an uptempo style, has excelled in Pingatore's fast-paced system the past two seasons. "We like to get it and go," Pingatore explained.

This summer, Freeman will be given the opportunity to run the point guard position exclusively. He played mostly at the two this season because Pingatore needed his scoring from the wing.

"He didn't get to the run the point exclusively this year," Pingatore said. "We'll give him the ball this summer and let him run the team."

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