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Is Zach Freemantle the rare immediate impact big?

Bigs that can walk on and play big minutes right away are hard to find.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament-Xavier vs Creighton
One final coach pic.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than a full on preview for each player on the roster this year we will be attempting to focus on one question that will determine how the player might fit on the team. The questions aren’t designed to carry either a positive or negative connotation, just really suss out how the roster is built. We’ll start with the freshman and build on to the players everyone knows.

One of the toughest things to do in college basketball is to show up physically ready for the the things that take place around the basket. Getting up to speed on the perimeter is no picnic, but at least the pace and space afforded to (and demanded of) those positions allow a young player to get a little bit of freedom to grow into the game. Less so under the bucket, where the frame of a grown man is often required to hold your own.

Enter your friend and mine Zach Freemantle. Xavier beat most of the upper Midwest for the four-star big man’s signature, with Minnesota, Penn State, and Pitt among the schools that offered him. He comes out of Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, where he averaged 17 and 10 and led the school to a state title as a senior.

Freemantle flashed a high basketball IQ to go with his skill set in Spain. He made solid runs to space in the full and half courts and popped up in good places on the offensive glass. He’s sneaky athletic and showed good lateral movement on both ends of the floor, averaging 11 and 6 in 20 minutes per game on the Iberian peninsula.

Being tough and athletic in high school and against the competition Xavier played in Spain is one thing, but doing it in the Big East is another challenge altogether. There are some really big dudes roaming the charge circle in this league.

Freemantle is a top-100 player out of high school and Coach Steele said he’ll be able to play right away thanks to his positional flexibility. Having Tyrique Jones anchoring the 5 for 25 or so minutes a game will give Freemantle an opportunity to serve as Jason Carter’s understudy as a 4 who can play some 5. At 6’9”, 225, Freemantle has the frame to hang in D1 ball as a big man, though the more time he spends with Matt Jennings, the better he’ll fare.

The Musketeers have a deep but jumbled picture at the 4 and 5. With Jones and Carter holding down the starting spots, Freemantle joins Dieonte Miles, Dontarius James, Daniel Ramsey, and a dash of Naji Marshall as contenders for minutes in one of the forward positions. If Freemantle can use his flex-four skill set and athleticism to couple with his intelligent play, he’ll be able to carve out a niche as the first big man off the bench and an offensive weapon for stretches. His ability to hold down real estate in the middle - and the ability of Xavier’s other big men to free him up to roam away from the rim - will ultimately decide how quickly his development is apparent on the court for the Muskies.