Glue Guy

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State signed Lennard Freeman in May during the spring signing period, and there really wasn't much buzz about it.

NC State signed Lennard Freeman in May during the spring signing period, and there really wasn't much buzz about it.

An underrated recruit out of Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill Academy, Freeman was a role player for the Warriors. He didn't score the most points or dominate the glass, but he displayed traits that Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried was looking for.

"We are very excited about adding Lennard," said Gottfried in May. "He is the ultimate team player and wants to win. He is 6-8, 235 pounds, and can defend, take charges and rebound.

"He is a player I feel can develop in our system. He has been well coached, and will be a great teammate as well. We can not wait to get him to Raleigh."

Early indications are Freeman is going to be the player Gottfried hoped he would be.

Just 17 years old, Freeman has already cracked the Wolfpack's starting lineup. He is averaging 4.9 points, six rebounds, and an assist per game, but he impacts more than just statistically.

"I love my role," said Freeman. "It's something I've done going back to high school. I've always been a guy who wants to do the dirty work. I'll take a shot when I can, but I really want to focus on rebounding and defending."

Freeman is coming off his best game of the season, a 10-point, 10-rebound effort in the Pack's double-digit win over Northwestern.

"I am excited for Lennard (Freeman)," said Gottfried following the wing. "He is such a young guy that is kind of excited to play and he plays hard. He blocks a shot and he gets rebounds. He had a couple dunks and he plays with energy.

"He also can go out on the floor and guard that stretch-forward that you have to sometimes guard that can make a three. He can go out on the perimeter and move his feet and contain a guy."

That type of versatility is what truly makes Freeman valuable. He provides energy. He's always hustling. He's a very good screener. He can defend multiple positions.

"I love playing defense," he said. "At my first high school I was more of a scorer, but when I went to Oak Hill I knew I had to do other things to help us win and that's what I tried to do, defend and rebound."

As with the rest of the Wolfpack, Freeman has been positively impacted by the return of starting center Jordan Vandenberg. Freeman had been playing center prior to Vandenberg's return but now he can move back over to his natural position.

"Having Jordan back has been great," said Freeman. "He allows me to move back to power forward which I think helps me as a rebounder and defender. I'm only 6'8 and a lot of the centers are around 6'10 so being back at power forward will make me a better rebounder while I'm out there."

Still, everything hasn't been rosy for Freeman. There is one area of his game where he knows he must improve. Through seven games he's shooting just 22% from the free throw line.

"I thought it was about 10%," he said, laughing. "I know I have to improve my free throws. I've been missing a lot of free throws.

"It's all about reps. I just need to keep practicing. I know I'm a much better free throw shooter than the numbers say, they just aren't going in. I'm still confident, I just need to keep getting the reps in practice."

Next up for Freeman and NC State is a home matchup with Long Beach State on Saturday. The Wolfpack is hot right now, having won their last three games by 20 points per game.

"We can only get better," said Freeman. "We'll keep practicing and keep playing tougher games... I think we're going to get a lot better."

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