The EnviroNZ Bulls continue to push towards building a SalsNBL championship squad with the signing of Kiwi big man Matthew Freeman. The Aucklander has committed to the Bulls for his Rookie SalsNBL season.
While it's his first New Zealand NBL Season, he's no rookie to the professional game. Matt is currently playing in Germany for the Trier Gladiators as the starting Power Forward, averaging nearly ten points and 4 rebounds per game, with a season high of 24 points. Matt has been competing in the same league against last years Bulls import signing, Grant Dressler, who unfortunately was unable to come to New Zealand due to Covid-19.
Since 2016, Matt has been making it big in the US, most notably playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, where he spent some of that time playing along side NBA star Trae Young. During this time Freeman brought his Sooners Squad to Auckland to compete against a New Zealand select team, which not only featured Freeman and Young, but also former Bulls players Dom Kelman-Poto and Nick Barrow. Sooners winning 133-91.
In his final year, he transferred to another D1 School, UC Santa Barbara, where he started 29 of 32 games and was key in the teams 2nd place ranking in the Big West Conference.
Since completing his college career, the former Junior Tall Black hasn't yet taken up the chance to play in the New Zealand NBL, until now.
Freeman says he's excited to get home.
"Being away more often than not, I’m always very excited to get home. Even more so this time as I get to play the game that I love, in the place that I fell in love with it. I’m especially excited at the opportunity to play for Coach Reddish and be a part of the EnviroNZ Bulls organisation. I believe this team has the potential to make a lot of noise this season. I look forward to joining the team and getting to work right away."
Matt's signing is a big one for Head Coach, Jamie Reddish, who puts it down to timing and relationships.
"We knew that Matt was considering coming home and we know we weren't the only ones trying to recruit him. It was the perfect mixture of timing and relationships that helped us get this signing done and we are excited to have Matt officially part of the Bulls family."
Matt will be huge for us this season. We know he has the potential to be the best 3/4 man in the league. He will be used to playing with players of the calibre of our Imports, Josh Selby and Zane Waterman. We think this could be the most exciting trio in the league."
General Manager, Scott Kelso says that having Freeman in the squad helps add to the building blocks of a team that is working to build a strong legacy in the NBL long term.
"The NBL celebrates 40 years and this year and as a league we will honour the top 40 players who have had a massive impact on it. We are a new team, which means our legacy is one of growth and opportunity. Matt will forever be part of that first EnviroNZ Bulls squad who get to play at home in Franklin. That's something we are most excited about and we are proud to be the team Matt will play his first ever NBL game for."
"Obviously this is my first NZ NBL season but I love any chance I get to play at home in front of the people that I love." adds Freeman
Matt will return post his season in Germany, so won't be available until the early stages of the 2021 season, but he's expected to come home fit and ready to play.