Sports Person of the Week
Freeman Stands Tall as Westbrook’s Center
Sam Freeman had a solid sophomore campaign for the Westbrook boys’ basketball team as the Knights’ starting center. (Photo courtesy of Sam Freeman )
Basketball runs deep in the Freeman family. Sam Freeman remembers his first moment on a basketball court, sitting next to his father Lee Freeman, who coached the Old Saybrook boys’ team at the time. As a child, Sam would watch games and practice his shot, waiting for his moment to get out there and play.
Now, Sam is getting that opportunity with the Westbrook boys’ basketball team. Sam recently completed his sophomore season as the Knights’ starting center. It’s a dream come true for Sam to be playing varsity in a sport that he’s loved for a long time.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was five years old. I played on my first travel team when I was eight,” says Sam. “My father introduced it to me, and I instantly fell in love with the sport. My grandfather [Dennis Freeman] coached at Westbrook and Old Saybrook for a combined 35 years. More or less, I’ve been involved in basketball since the day I was born.”
Westbrook finished with eight victories on the recent campaign, improving its win total by two from the previous season. The Knights, who lost several competitive contests by single digits, qualified for both the Shoreline Conference Tournament and the Division V State Tournament.
“We were in a lot of our games this year. I don’t think our record was indicative of how well we actually played,” Sam says. “My favorite moment from this season actually came in a loss against Morgan at home. We lost 54-48, but we put forth a complete team effort in a hard-fought game. I think Morgan was a stronger team, but we still gave it everything we had. That was my best game of the season for sure, because I was able to score, rebound, and even pick up a few charges.”
One of Sam’s favorite parts about playing basketball is the team aspect of the sport. Sam knows that you need to have a closely knit squad that plays with grit in order to win games.
“Everyone needs to have the same goals in mind,” says Sam. “I enjoy doing things that are considered the dirty work, such as drawing charges, boxing out, and rebounding. As a sophomore playing against upperclassmen, I realized the physicality of the game and, by the end of the season, I felt like I was able to compete at a more physical level.”
Westbrook Head Coach Jeff Beeman has high praise for his 6-foot-1 center. Beeman calls Sam one of the hardest-working players on his roster who gives it his all in every contest.
“Sam has always brought a certain level of toughness to our team, and we all can appreciate that about him,” Beeman says. “You need players that are going to be willing to hit the deck for a ball and scramble for a possession when we need it most. Sam is that guy for us.”
Sam enjoys working with Coach Beeman. Sam says that Beeman motivates every player on the team to improve their game each day in practice.
“Coach Beeman pushes us to succeed, and I’m already looking forward to next season,” says Sam. “Everyone on the team is coming back, and we all feel like we can only get better.”
Sam plans to continue working on his game during the offseason. Sam has a bunch of different drills to do in his driveway and is eager to get back into the gym.
“I try to improve on something every time I go out and play. It is always important for me to work on my weaknesses,” says Sam, who also plays second base and the outfield for the Westbrook baseball team. “One thing that I’ve been trying to work on really hard is my ballhandling. I’ve been going to summer camps for the past couple years and plan on doing the same this summer.”
Sam’s family legacy runs deep within the Shoreline Conference. As he looks ahead to the second half of his tenure at Westbrook, Sam wants to continue traveling the trail that was forged by his father and grandfather.
“I’m trying to continue their legacy,” Sam says. “They did a lot of great things during their time in the conference.”