Many high school basketball fanatics acknowledge the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) as one of, if not, the best high school hoops conferences in the country. When looking at the speed, size, and advanced skill of some of the best players within the league, it’s honestly hard to argue against that belief. One can go through the record books and take note of the many players who went on to play at the collegiate level after graduating from the WCAC. Finishing as regular-season champions this past season, the renowned Paul VI Catholic High School program is no stranger to achieving success within the conference. At the conclusion of last season, back in March, seven of the Panthers’ players earned WCAC All-League selections, while head coach Glen Farello was tabbed the league’s ‘Coach of the Year.’ Even though he didn’t place as an all-conference selection, I expect Josiah Freeman ’20 of Paul VI to break out into his own heading into this season; he appears healthy and more than eager to take on roles that need filling due to recent graduates.
Standing at 6’4,” the strong Freeman can play as either a shooting guard or wing on the court. For those who may not know, he had been enjoying a stellar sophomore season this past year until some injuries late in the season limited him to go out and perform with his teammates. After arriving back on the hardwood and taking his focus into the summer, the junior now appears more confident than ever for the possibilities that can surface as an upperclassmen. When I took the trip to watch the Panthers in an open practice, Freeman stood out some of the most, mainly due to his enthusiastic nature. He stayed vocal throughout the entire session and really knew how to encourage/motivate his teammates. When looking at him from a skill standpoint, his improved versatility on both sides of the ball should have fans excited. Freeman excels as a ‘three-level scorer’ that can use his strength to attack the basket and create space for his shot. His shooting touch ranges out to well beyond NBA three-point line territory and he can heat up quickly. For that latter notion, I refer many of these such guys as ‘microwave players.’ Defensively, Freeman rebounds just as good as any guard on the roster, along with using his instincts well to guard whoever comes across his way. Paul VI focused on the area of defense a lot during my visit and Freeman seemed to enjoy it the most within the group.
When ESPN four-star recruit and current Villanova freshman, Brandon Slater ’19, departed from the program and school last spring after his high school graduation, audiences likely saw it as a big loss of the team’s firepower that would need to quickly be replaced heading into this season. I certainly see Freeman as the one more than capable of taking on that role. He has few holes in his game offensively and used this summer as a big opportunity to make a name for himself on the recruiting radar. Maybe hearing it from him will give readers an even better idea of his focused mentality:
I see you’re ready for this season to get going. In your own words, how would you characterize last season?
“I feel like we did well as a team. Unfortunately, we had a lot of key players go through injuries but it actually made us grow closer as a group, which should help in our chemistry this year. For me, personally, I felt I played pretty good in the beginning of the season but went through a couple of bad ankle sprains toward the end of the year which kept me out of the postseason. But, coming back after rehab, I felt good and now have some momentum going into this year.”
You’ve been at Paul VI for your entire high school career so far. Outside of playing ball, what do you enjoy most about the school?
“The culture. Everybody goes to all of the different teams’ games. That goes for the athletes too. You’ll see football players at the hockey games, soccer players at our games, and so on. We have a big support system here when it comes to athletics; our student section prides on calling themselves “the 6th man.” So, it’s great to see a lot of people showing love for the sports programs. I’ve always respected that.”
How is it playing for Coach Farello?
“It’s great, but it’s honestly more to it than just basketball in having him as a mentor. You can go talk to him about anything: things going on in the classroom, family, whatever it may be. He’s like another family member to us.”
Saw you played with teammate Trevor Keels ’21 on Team Takeover 16u back in the summer. How’d that season go?
“It went good, but a little short for us since the high school season carried into the start of travel play. I feel we could’ve won a couple of more games and championships that we lost but we played well. Guys got some exposure, so we definitely can’t complain about that. Taking the trip to Peach Jam was really cool. We’ve never played at that site and it was surreal to be around so many coaches and great players.”
Now, as an upperclassmen, what do you want audiences to see in your game that they may not have seen during your first two high school seasons?
“I’ve been in the gym a lot, for sure; pretty much every chance I can. I just want to show everybody how much I’ve been working on every area of my game. I guess you can’t really say there’s a specific skill that I’ve focused on since last season ended. I make it a mission to improve on a bit of everything on the court so I can go out there and show the complete package. People should definitely note a difference if they’re looking to compare me to last season’s version.”
Has Coach Farello talked to you about what he’ll need from you as an upperclassmen?
“Yes, he definitely has great talks with all of the upperclassmen. For me, we have a good bond because he’s seen me on the court since I’ve been coming to Paul VI basketball camps back when I was a nine-year-old. He got a sense of my game back then and always encourages me to work and showcase my full ability.”
What schools have extended offers so far?
“Old Dominion, Mount St. Mary’s, Bryant University, and Robert Morris.”
Have other schools shown interest?
“Yes sir. Right now, I have interest from Colorado, Butler, Maryland, Marquette, Notre Dame, Sienna, and Delaware. A lot of schools in the NEC and Atlantic 10 Conference have reached out.”
Do you plan on taking any upcoming visits?
“Not at the moment. I’m still deciding, honestly.”
Obviously, you have some years left of high school to complete. Still, when it comes down to make a decision, what will you be looking for in a college? Not just the basketball program, but also the school itself?
“Education will be first, above everything else. Education means a lot to me so I need to make sure I’m attending a campus where I find studies that interests me. When talking about the basketball aspect, I’ll be looking for a team that likes to play at a fast pace. Players get to make quick decisions, using the pick & roll, things like that. That’s how we play here so I’ve become accustomed to it.”
Hobbies when not playing ball?
“Video games. I play a lot of Fortnite and NBA 2k; all of our guys do. Also, people may not know, but football actually used to be my first main sport growing up. So, sometimes I just throw the football with my friends when we’re hanging out.”
Where does Josiah Freeman see himself in ten years?
“Man, I definitely want to stay around the game. If I’m not in the NBA or overseas, I still want to be a trainer or coach. I’d even consider coming back here to the school and coaching. Whatever it takes to stay around the game.”
Don’t be surprised if we see Freeman emerge as one of the better prospects in the WCAC soon. He’s healthy, confident, and inspired!