He’s a Mater Dei leader and fu­ture Ivy Lea­guer

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - ERIC SONDHEIMER ON HIGH SCHOOLS eric.sondheimer@la­times.com Twit­ter: @lat­sond­heimer

With a 4.2 grade-point av­er­age and the abil­ity to think clearly and make wise de­ci­sions in pres­sure sit­u­a­tions, se­nior point guard Spencer Freed­man of Santa Ana Mater Dei fits the mold of a fu­ture Har­vard stu­dent.

“One of his goals is to be pres­i­dent of the United States,” coach Gary McKnight said. “I would have voted for him this year with­out a doubt.”

Freed­man is not quite ready to put the weight of the world on his shoul­ders. He’ll set­tle for mak­ing Mater Dei the best basketball team in Cal­i­for­nia, and that’s very much a pos­si­bil­ity. The Mon­archs are play­ing in this week’s Fair­fax sum­mer tour­na­ment and will take on Pasadena in a semi­fi­nal matchup Fri­day at 7:30 p.m.

Freed­man is still re­ceiv­ing con­grat­u­la­tions for his com­mit­ment to Har­vard three weeks ago. He had schol­ar­ship of­fers from Pac-12 Con­fer­ence schools Wash­ing­ton and USC, among oth­ers, but de­cided he didn’t need to stroke his ego or fear head­ing to the East Coast.

“I def­i­nitely feel it’s the per­fect fit,” he said. “Aca­dem­i­cally, it’s an in­cred­i­ble place and the basketball is tremen­dous as well. The Ivy League is an up-and-com­ing league. Of course, get­ting to stay home and closer to L.A. is a lit­tle tempt­ing, but hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to go to a place like Har­vard is some­thing I’ve al­ways wanted.”

Freed­man was the Trin­ity League player of the year as a ju­nior. His out­side shoot­ing has be­come so good that ear­lier this week, he’d throw up a three-pointer, it would swish, and he would hardly take time to watch the ball go through the net be­fore head­ing back on de­fense. He’s play­ing with great con­fi­dence and at a com­fort level that is dif­fi­cult to dis­rupt.

It makes me rem­i­nisce about the game that ex­posed Freed­man and his Mater Dei team­mates like none other. It hap­pened on Feb. 26, 2016. It was a semi­fi­nal play­off game, and Chino Hills de­feated the Mon­archs, 102-54, in the worst de­feat ever in­flicted on a McKnight-coached team. Freed­man was over­whelmed go­ing against fu­ture Lak­ers guard Lonzo Ball.

In hind­sight, it was a hard but nec­es­sary teach­ing mo­ment in let­ting Freed­man know what he needed to do to com­pete against the best.

“It was a big les­son,” he said. “It wasn’t a great game and pretty tough on us, but hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to play a team that was so good and get­ting the chance to see what it’s like to be on the court with play­ers of that cal­iber … it’s just been a re­ally good les­son for me to see how I have to im­prove and see where I need to be at to be at my best.

“After­ward, I an­a­lyzed it for a lit­tle while and just re­al­ized I have to im­prove and we as a team have to im­prove. But see­ing what level they were at and how good they were was a good mea­sur­ing stick what we wanted to be like.”

Last sea­son, Freed­man and Mater Dei de­feated Chino Hills, 83-80, in over­time be­fore a sell­out crowd at Galen Cen­ter in one of the most en­ter­tain­ing games of the sea­son. And the schools are set to meet again in the fea­tured game of the Nike Ex­trav­a­ganza on Feb. 3 at Mater Dei. Peo­ple might want to start lin­ing up now for tick­ets to that one.

Freed­man en­joys be­ing the player who gets the ball to 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, who is ex­pected to be the No. 1 cen­ter in Cal­i­for­nia in the com­ing sea­son.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “He makes it real easy. He’s as tall as they come. He’s fun to play with.”

Freed­man re­ceived good prepa­ra­tion for col­lege last sea­son by go­ing up against the likes of Tor­rance Bishop Mont­gomery, Chino Hills and Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. We’ll be watch­ing many of the play­ers on those teams on tele­vi­sion in the com­ing years.

“It was so com­pet­i­tive,” he said. “Coach McKnight tells us there’s never been a year like that be­fore. It was spe­cial to be a part of that.”

Freed­man plans to study busi­ness at Har­vard, but don’t ex­pect him to be­come a lawyer like his fa­ther, Bryan.

“I’ll leave that to my dad,” he said.

Eric Sondheimer Los An­ge­les Times

HAR­VARD-BOUND Spencer Freed­man was Trin­ity League’s basketball player of the year as a ju­nior.

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