A New Zealand Premiere side has been named today to face Oklahoma University, which will touch down on New Zealand shores next week along with former Junior Tall Black Matt Freeman.
Freeman signed a full ride scholarship to Oklahoma University in 2015 and the Forward says he cant wait to show his Stateside teammates New Zealand.
"It's a very exciting opportunity for me as I get to take the family that I have here at OU and show them around my home. I'm truly blessed that a lot of my friends and family will get the opportunity to see our team play, and what makes it even more special is it will be on my home turf. Overall though, not only is it going to be a very special opportunity for me, I truly feel it will be a trip to remember for everyone on the trip."
The Westlake College old boy says he has settled into his OU environment after redshirting the majority of 2016 year, and since getting his first set of playing minutes in November.
"College basketball was a big adjustment for me as soon as I stepped on the floor. Especially in our team, as we play fast and run the floor hard, it has been quite an adjustment getting conditioned to the style of play. Also in my first year it was quite an eye-opener in terms of how physically advanced some people I played against were. I focused a lot of this off-season towards getting stronger and I feel very positive about this up-coming season because of it."
Its well known that US Scholarship basketball can be tough. Players are required to balance study and maintain good grades, while also dedicating themselves to basketball, and playing for a team functions within a fully-funded high-performance environment. Yet Matt Freeman says he wouldnt have it any other way.
"It's obviously very different, especially not having your family around 100% of the time. I love Oklahoma though, it's again a very different place, but it sort of just clicked with me ever since I got here. We practice a lot though, during the season especially, it's pretty much every day for up to three to four hours depending on how much we do. Some days a harder than others, sometimes I just want to stay in bed and sleep, but honestly I love what I do and it's my passion. So, when days get hard, I just keep reminding myself of my end goal and how much I love this game."
Its that drive that may well one day see this young talent reach the pinnacle levels of the sport.
"My first ambition is to play in the NBA and everything for me comes after that. I'm working hard towards that goal and truly believe it's a real opportunity for me in a few years. In terms of the Tall Blacks, I've always loved playing for my country ever since I started playing basketball so any and every chance I get to represent my country at the highest level is a blessing to me."
On this occasion though, Freeman will be representing Oklahoma University against a team called New Zealand Premiere, which is a one-time exhibition, barbarian-styled team.
NZ Premiere Head Coach Mike Fitchett (Assistant Coach to New Zealand Breakers and New Zealand Select), says it will be a big challenge for the those Kiwis pulled in for this exhibition match, especially when matching up against the well-drilled high-performance unit of OU, a team that plays in the tough BIG 12 Conference and were in the Final Four in 2016.
"Its no secret this Premiere team wont enjoy any substantial time together, especially with a number of the team playing in the Under 23 National tournament immediately preceding the game. But many of the players have played through the junior system together, so they should have some familiarity playing with each other.
"Its a great opportunity for our local talent to be able to have a crack at such a big time programme that is OU. It will be awesome for the guys that have played with and against Matt Freeman, to see how he has progressed and how good he is now. Just a great chance for the guys involved to have a high level game to participate in," said Coach Fitchett.
The players in the New Zealand Premiere team are:
- Nick Barrow
- Jayden Bezzant
- Taylor Britt
- Denhym Brooke
- Joe Cook Green
- Tom Higgins
- Dominique Kelman Poto
- James Moors
- Sam Smith
- Thomas Whyte
- Ugo Pierantoni
Oklahoma University are in New Zealand for only two days and then fly to Australia where they have a further four games.
The game will be held at Auckland Grammar School on Sunday 6 August, 3pm Tip off. Gold Coin Entry, but the crowd will be limited to first 500. To apply for tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand