The Wolfpacker

November 2015 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 21 of 155

20 ■ THE WOLFPACKER TRACKING THE PACK NC State junior post player Lennard Freeman brings positive energy to the court, which proved to be a key story line down the stretch last year. Head coach Mark Gottfried knew he had to insert the 6-9, 250-pounder into the lineup, and when he did, the Wolfpack went 8-3 down the stretch and earned a berth to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Freeman averaged 3.6 points and 5.6 re- bounds per game, and shot 44.7 percent from the field and 50.0 percent at the free throw line. The Washington, D.C., native is slowly on the comeback trail after having surgery to heal a fracture in his lower right leg last June. Freeman recently took some time with The Wolfpacker to talk about his junior season and how the players are having fun. What happened that eventually lead to surgery on your leg? "It was a stress fracture in my shin. It was like a tiny little crack. The doctor said if I keep playing on it, the chances are real small, but I could have a [former Lou- isville and Georgia State player] Kevin Ware-type injury. "After the season was over they were like, 'Let's hurry up. Let's try to let it heal, but if it doesn't heal, we got to get the surgery.' That is what we did." Did the injury affect your during last sea - son? "I had played through it and was hoping it would be a temporary thing, but after a week, it was still there. I started feeling it in practice. Every time I jumped, it hurt. We got an X-ray, and the first X-ray, the doctor didn't get the right picture. So, they didn't see the crack and didn't think anything was wrong. We kept on going, but it was hurting more. We got another X-ray, and they got the right spot and saw the crack. We were like, 'Let's just try and finish strong.' We'd ice it and put a pad on it. "Around NCAA Tournament time, we knew we had a few games left. Once the season was over, I got shut down and we had the surgery." What was it like following the surgery? "I remember for a month, [junior center] BeeJay [Anya] had to help me get in bed and out of bed. I couldn't drive and I couldn't do anything. Everything I did, I needed a person to help me. That went on for a month, and then I got rid of my crutches. I got the boot off a couple of weeks after that. "That was my first serious injury. I had rolled a couple of ankles and stuff like that, but first time having surgery." How did you try and maintain conditioning? "I feel like my conditioning hasn't really been put to the test yet. We didn't have any official practices, but I rode the bike every day. That is definitely going to be the hard part. "I feel like I'm in shape, but with what they have been doing with conditioning, I know I'm nowhere near the shape they are in. I'll have to see where my condition - ing is." What did you work on during the summer while still being careful? "I just did what I could. I couldn't go out there and run, so I shot free throws every day, or I rode the bike. "[Assistant] Coach [Bobby] Lutz talked about it in practice that I'm a 82 percent [shooter] on the free throws that we charted. That's all that I've been doing. I'm glad that was something I was allowed to do because I was going to work on that anyway in the summer. I hope you all see a big improvement in my free throws." How much did you get to play and do things in late September? "When I played, it would be all [scrimmages]. They would play seven or eight games, and I'd be able to play two. I would always try and play every day. I'd come in and do stuff after they would play pickup. "Our trainer didn't want me to play that much and wear myself out. I know my body, so I'd come out and play a game. It was like every other day kind of stuff." Are you building up your stamina and en - durance? "I'm still doing rehab and still doing pickup going [into October], and stuff like that." What has it been like to see your good friend and fellow post player BeeJay Anya slim down to around 285 pounds? "He is in charge of himself and a grown man. At the end of his sophomore year, I told him, 'You are running out of time. Don't let it go to waste. Let's work and get a championship.' "He has been on his grind. He is way more confident for sure. He's talking more and he won't be quiet. He is always talking now." Have you noticed a change in Anya? "Young BeeJay, if you told him, 'Don't eat that. That isn't good for you.' He'd get mad and be like, 'You aren't going to tell me what to do.' That was the immature BeeJay. Now he'll say, 'Man, you are right. I'll put this down.'" What have you seen about this year's team that will impress the fans? "It has definitely been different from the other years. Right now, we only have two active forwards on the roster [Anya and sophomore Abdul-Malik Abu], and they aren't on the same team in practice. We've had to play four guards on the floor, which I'm not used to seeing at NC State. "I feel like we have talented guards and they've been going real good." Can you explain the jersey change to No. 1 after previously being No. 10? "I just took [that number]. Trevor Lacey is mad because they are saying that Lennard got Richard Howell's num - ber, and they aren't saying he got Trevor's old number. "He is mad at that, though I feel I got Richard's number and not Trevor's." How have you incorporated the two fresh- men Maverick Rowan and Shaun Kirk into the program? "We'll do simple jokes on them. If they come into the locker room and are playing their music, we'll say, 'Who is playing the music?' If it is one of them, we'll turn it off and put our music on. "I have these fan things with my face. I got a lot of them. I don't know where they have come from, but I have a 100 of them. Every day, I'll put my face on their locker. They'll get rid of it, but a new one will pop up every day. It's so funny. "When Maverick is in a group and he says something, everyone will just look at him and say, 'Just be quiet.' He's sometimes scared to say stuff. It's nothing about him, but we are just joking." In June, Freeman had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right shin — an injury he played through while helping the Wolfpack reach the Sweet 16 last season. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN Getting To Know: Junior Forward Lennard Freeman ■ Men's Basketball

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