The 2016 class is complete with five players, ranging from the No. 35 player in Kameron McGusty to an under-the-radar late addition in point guard Jordan Shepherd. Add in Matt Freeman, Kristian Doolittle and Darrion Strong and it’s the highest-rated class for Oklahoma under current coach Lon Kruger.
Sooners Illustrated wanted to learn more about the quintet – who they are, what they like and what fans can expect from all of them.
Who better to turn to than the coaches who have been around them for years?
Here are five things that Freeman’s individual skills coach, Dave Mackay, pointed out about the redshirt freshman:
Freeman had some talent on the diamond … “Baseball’s not a big sport over here, at all. It’s kind of small. At under-14 or under-15, he represented New Zealand and was quite a good pitcher. It was quite a unique thing for him.”
When he was little, he had the lead role in the Cat in the Hat … “He was the cat when he was a young fella. He’s quite a talented actor, actually. He’s a little bit of a character. . . . That’s something that he probably prides himself on, his acting talents.”
Freeman’s exaggerated bench celebrations haven’t come as a surprise. . . . “Matty has always been very charismatic in his actions. He’s not afraid to put his hands up if he makes a big shot or someone else makes a big shot. . . . When he was over here, we went through some pretty tough experiences, big wins and big losses, tough losses. He’s always been a big-game player. I knew when he was going over there, he’d never have a problem with the big stage. He’s always been a big team guy.”
He’s determined . . . “If you were to describe him in open word: He’s determined. He doesn’t want to accept anything less than the best. That’s always been a character trait of Matt. . . . I try to keep up with once a week, but he’s just hungry to play. Redshirting has been great for him. It’s taught him a lot, and he got to enjoy the ride to the Final Four. What a great experience that was for him. Even throughout that experience, he was hungry to get on the training court so he could practice.”
The last moment was the best moment. . . . “The one that will always remain was the last one that he played for me at the under-18 Australian state championship. The last game I coached him. It was his last game with the New Zealand team that I was coaching. He had a big game. I think he sort of had a big game because he knew it was the last game. He scored 46 points and 14 rebounds. It was quite big numbers. He just played, and he just had that look in his face that he was going to win the game for us. That was probably the most special moment.”