Joel Freeland Finally Takes His Place in the NBA October 09, 2012 11:29
Anyone that watched the basketball at the London 2012 Olympics should be familiar with Team GB's Joel Freeland. Having already had a distinguished career in Europe, and after first being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2006, Freeland is now ready to make his official debut in the NBA.
Freeland is a real, homegrown success story, fit to inspire other UK ballers who dream about making it to the big time. As a kid growing up in Surrey, football was the sport that everybody played, and Freeland was good at it. However, a severe leg break during a football match, when he was just a teen put an end to his footballing dreams.
Luckily, Freeland found basketball as an alternative, at the age of 17, and has never looked back. By that time, Freeland had grown to 6"9', and he very quickly grabbed the attention of local team, the TVTigers/ Guilford Heat.
In an interview with Mike Barrett on the Trail Blazers blog, Freeland said, “That first year I was just kind of messing around with my friends, playing at the park everyday. Simply just from playing at the park I was noticed, and the next thing I knew I got an invitation to play with the under-18 national team in England. At that point I had only been playing the game for one year, and hadn’t ever had any kind of formal training.”
It wasn't long after Freeland started playing with the Under-18's team, that he was noticed by NBA scouts. Then, in 2006, at the age of just 19, the Portland Trail Blazers signed Freeland in the NBA Draft.
Getting to that point after just two years of playing basketball is crazy. Even more so when you consider that Portland also drafted LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy in that same draft.
Freeland's move towards the NBA was a quiet one back in 2006. He was drafted 30th overall, and advised by the Trail Blazers to spend some time in Europe working on his game, and getting comfortable with the pace and toughness of the game.
After spending time with CB Gran Canaria and Unicaja Malaga in Spain, and then stepping up to the London Olympic basketball team for GB, he has now officially made the transition to being an NBA Rookie. Freeland is now taking part in the Trail Blazers pre-season training camp, and not only is there some serious buzz and noise around him, but he's making a great impression on the coaches, players and media over there in the US.
He has a very well developed game, he's willing to work hard and play his part to make a name for himself in the NBA. For anyone making their way through the ranks of UK basketball, you would be well advised to start following Freeland's progress in the NBA and to take note of this guys work ethic, approach to the game, and all round dedication to hard work and practice. We are definitely going to be watching Freeland closely this season, and wish him all the best in the NBA.