Coming into this past season Xavier was returning a strong core from a team that was solid defensively but was wretched on offense. Zach Freemantle was said to be the guy that the offense would run through thanks to his ability in the paint as well as his jump shooting ability. Freemantle would also have to perform on the boards without the security blanket that was Tyrique Jones around to bully opponents. While Freemantle made strides this year he also showed that he has a lot to improve in his game this coming season.
In the Xavier Invitational Freemantle showed off his variety of offensive skills against all challengers in the first two games. He was dominant in the paint and stepped out to take a respectable amount of threes as he cruised through a couple great performances. Game three showed Freemantle’s ability to stop himself. He picked up a couple dumb technicals and seemed content to shoot from deep even when shots weren’t falling. Freemantle established himself inside against EKU and shot 10-10 from 2 but then struggled to be efficient in the next couple outings. He got back right with a big performance against Oklahoma and was hitting from everywhere. This really set the tone for the season, Freemantle would look unstoppable for a stretch then seem reluctant to takeover. Every time an opposing big man would challenge Freemantle inside he would move further and further away from the basket and limit his own effectiveness. For a guy who shot nearly 60% from 2 and has a plethora of offensive skills he didn’t assert himself the way most would have hoped.
Despite his shortcomings with being tough in the paint Freemantle still led the team in scoring, shot 59% from inside the arc and dished out assists at a respectable rate for a big man. As Freemantle became less aggressive in the paint he took a higher rate of threes and his percentage from there also fell off. At his worst Freemantle was frustrating on offense and backed down from a challenge. At his best Freemantle was nearly unstoppable on offense and could score from all three levels and could go for 20 easily. The offense was at its best with Freemantle as a key component of it because of the threat that he posed.
To say Freemantle was underwhelming on the defensive end would be putting it nicely. He would routinely get moved around in the paint and was slow footed on the perimeter. Even though his rebounding numbers were highest on the team Freemantle would frequently lose rebounding position to opponents and often wasn’t trusted to defend opposing big men.
Freemantle was undeniably an integral part of this squad and he brought more good then bad to the table. He was a difficult matchup for opponents to plan for and even on bad nights could grab double digits. While he was a mismatch nightmare on offense he was exactly the type of matchup that opposition could attack on the defensive end. He was too slow to switch or even hedge onto a guard and he was wasily bullied in the paint. Despite his shortcomings, Freemantle was still one of the best players on the team and will continue to develop into a dominant big man.