Hello all, and welcome to another edition of Husky History. Each week, this column highlights the accomplishments of a former UConn athlete and their ability to perform at the professional level and beyond.
This week’s edition focuses on Kevin Freeman, the forward who made UConn history in his four-year tenure in Storrs. A native of Springfield, Massachussetts, Freeman was born on March 3, 1978. While playing high school basketball at Paterson Catholic High School in New Jersey, Freeman made his impact by winning three state championships.
Freeman was surrounded by basketball talent early on. He was a member of the 1994 New Jersey Paterson AAU team with future NBA talents Vince Carter, Tim Thomas, Rip Hamilton and the late Kobe Bryant. The team is considered by many to be one of the greatest AAU teams assembled. Deciding to stay close to home for college, Freeman came to Storrs to play for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun. He would become a pivotal part in what UConn had been building.
In his freshman year, Freeman jumped right into the action and started in 19 games of the 33 he appeared in. The forward averaged 8.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game, displaying his aggressiveness from the beginning. He ranked 13th in the Big East in free throws with 159 and 12th in total rebounds with 210.
What players strive to do between seasons is work on their craft and apply it when the new year rolls around, and Freeman’s statistics reflect that. Starting all 36 games his second year, Freeman increased his counting stats to 10.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. Freeman was a reliable scoring option for Coach Calhoun during the season, as he ranked fifth in two-point field goal percentage, hitting them at 56.9 percent clip.
Freeman helped secure UConn an NCAA tournament bid, where he averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting. The Huskies went on a run until falling to North Carolina in the Regional final. The 1998-99 year was the dream season for both Freeman and the Huskies. The forward averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game, but more importantly performed when the lights were the brightest.
UConn captured its fourth Big East championship over St. John’s, and Freeman was awarded the Tournament MVP award after averaging 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and and 0.8 assists. The success did not stop there for the Huskies and Freeman. Averaging 9.8 points and 4.2 rebounds, Freeman played a major role in securing UConn’s first national championship over Duke. Along with Hamilton and senior Ricky Moore, the junior was named to the 1999 West Region All-Tournament Team.
Prior to that magical season, Coach Calhoun had high praise for Freeman. In his book Dare to Dream, Calhoun said, “No kid ever had been a more solid, every-night constant for us than Kevin. He was our grit, our fiber, the backbone of what we did.” He also added, “He gave us everything he had in every game he played.” Returning for his senior season, Freeman improved on the defensive end where he ranked tenth in defensive win shares with 2.7. UConn suffered an early second-round exit in the NCAA tournament, unfortunately, but Freeman played well and averaged 13.5 points and 4.0 rebounds.
After capping off an incredible career, Freeman’s name was all over the UConn record books. It is said that the best ability is availability, and Freeman was the prime example of that. He is second all-time in program history in games played with 140, three behind fellow champion Shabazz Napier. After his time with UConn, Freeman went on to have an extensive international playing career with teams from Italy, Australia, Greece, China, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Venezuela and Spain.
Freeman returned to Storrs for the 2011-12 season on Calhoun’s staff, serving as the Assistant Director of Basketball Administration. He would eventually take over as director of the position for six years under Coach Kevin Ollie. As the director, Freeman was in charge of a variety of compliance issues as well as general program operations.
After a two-year stint serving as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball program at Penn State, Freeman made another return to UConn to join Coach Dan Hurley’s staff as an assistant coach in 2020. Freeman currently serves as the Associate Director of Athletics for the Huskies and is the Executive Director for the National “C” Club at UConn, a program that allows former student-athletes at UConn to build relationships through networking and professional experience.
Freeman has not strayed far from home and UConn Nation is proud to have him on campus. Husky pride runs deep within the champion, from his playing days up to now.