Why On3 is Higher than the Industry on four-star Syracuse Signee Donavan Freeman

On3 imageby:Jamie Shaw12/01/23


Recent Syracuse signee Donavan Freeman is an interesting prospect. Here at On3, we are higher than the industry on the 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward at Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy ranking him as the No. 10 overall player in the 2024 On3 150

On3 leaves nothing to question when we talk about the objective of our rankings. The goal of our rankings is to assess a prospect’s long-term potential, ultimately manifested by the NBA Draft. Our ranking is not to assess who had the best high school career or who will be the best college player. This is why we will shoot to end each cycle with 14 five-star prospects following the lead of the NBA Draft Lottery. This can be different from others, but our vision with rankings is draft night. 

On3 has Freeman ranked No. 10. He is ranked No. 51 for Rivals, No. 28 for 247, and No. 38 at ESPN. Freeman is the No. 31 player in the 2024 On3 Industry Ranking. Criteria can be different across the industry when it comes to players and the order in they are ranked. So let’s break down why On3 is higher on Donavan Freeman than the industry.

Donavan Freeman’s Physical Frame

Donavan Freeman has long looked the part. To steal from football terms, when you see a player who physically looks the part – without seeing him play – you say ‘on the hoof.’ On the hoof, Freeman has the look of a long-term basketball prospect. 

He is listed at 6-foot-9. I cannot find a wing span measurement for him, but the eye test shows that Freeman is certain to have a plus wing span. He also carries broad shoulders which adds to the projectability of his frame. While he is thin now, his frame looks to have no issue adding weight without losing flexibility and fluidity. 

Speaking of flexibility and fluidity, this is the first part of the intrigue with Freeman as you project him moving forward. He is a good athlete with natural fluidity. At 6-foot-9, Freeman moves side-to-side very well, moving his feet on switches and opening up his hips to retreat when necessary. While he is not super-bursty as an athlete, he has adequate athleticism to match his length and height. However, it is the fluidity that intrigues with him.

Freeman’s Offensive Game

Donavan Freeman has always had touch. Even as a freshman at Washington (DC) St. John’s College, he was more than comfortable in catch-and-shoot situations from 18 feet extended. And, in some ways, this has become a central piece of his game. 

Freeman is the most comfortable facing the basket, so over the past couple of years, he has built around his spot shooting. He has kept his balance points and the repeatable shot prep into his load, and the release is loose and consistent. With the added strength over the past eight to 12 months, Freeman has become comfortable knocking down shots off two and three dribbles. He is still working on his balance points and footwork here, but the comfort shown is a positive indicator. 

This has opened up Freeman’s offensive game, making him more of a threat along the perimeter. No longer is he simply a floor-spacer or a pick-and-pop threat, but he is developing to be able to knock down shots comfortably off movement, both using screens of others or his own dribble. 

This summer, playing with the Team Takeover program on Nike’s EYBL Circuit, Freeman averaged 12.3 points and shot 37.5 percent from three on 1.3 attempts per contest. He worked in a lot of high-low sets with Duke signee and fellow four-star Patrick Ngongba playing on the block. Team Takeover won the Peach Jam Championship.

Even with his faceup game, Freeman is the most efficient around the rim. He has a go-to move over his left shoulder that he finishes over would-be defenders with touch. The forward can post on the block and give a big target. He is also adept with off-ball cuts and quick finishes around the basket. 

During EYBL play this summer, Freeman shot 67.1 percent at the rim. He scored 1.34 points per shot taken, which Synergy graded out in the 90th percentile among his peers.

As Freeman continues to add strength, especially in his base and his core, more of his offensive game should open up. He has a lot of the pieces and tools necessary. Now it is just tightening it with game reps and then adding little counters. 

The Defensive Presence

Donavan Freeman has natural instincts, and that awareness can go a long way on the defensive end. We have spoken about his plus wing span previously, and his fluid athleticism. All of this plays into Freeman’s upside as a defensive player. 

At 6-foot-9, Freeman has the adequate size necessary as he continues forward as a player. He has good timing. While not a true rim protector, he uses his length, size, and instincts to affect play around the basket. As he continues with team rotations and off-ball footwork, he should be able to collect his share of blocked shots and intimidations. 

I am intrigued by Freeman’s upside as a movable defender. His ability to slide his feet with perimeter-based forwards while also guarding closer to the basket and rotating around the rim. His fluidity is natural, his ability to open his hips and change directions is interesting here. He also has great instincts in the passing lanes and off the ball. 

Freeman will collect deflections on the defensive end of the floor. As he continues to hone his defensive footwork, his ability to shut down angles will continue to grow. Like with the offensive side of the ball, as Freeman continues to add strength, more of his game should open up on this end of the floor. 

Projecting Freeman Moving Forward

Immediately, the size and frame pop for Donavan Freeman. He has the look of a forward at the highest level. And with his production, we have continued to see consistent growth. 

He will need to continue adding strength, especially to his base and his core, there is no denying that. However, in today’s game, where teams are going four and five out and the NBA thrives on spacing, he has the natural offensive touch to space the floor. He is also continuing to grow that aspect, adding small pieces like shooting off the bounce. Freeman will need to continue adding to his middle game, working on his balance points. 

Defensively, Freeman has the fluidity to guard in today’s spaced-out game. The instincts are there as well as the length. He will need to continue working with the angles and footwork, but that will come. Physically, Freeman has intriguing upside on this end. 

While he is not a finished product, there are a lot of indicators with Freeman that are necessary in today’s game. And while he is already producing, he is also continuing to show development.