Feb 14

Joel Freeland -- Did You Know?

By Kassandra Posted in: Blazers
A full six years after he was drafted by the Trail Blazers, it was Joel Freeland's turn to come to the states to put his talents up against the best of the NBA.

Like many fans, I wondered if we would ever see Joel in a Blazers uniform. That July day when it was announced that he had signed his NBA contract was filled with excitement, anticipation and wonder. We've been hearing his name for years and now, finally, we were going to see Joel on the Rose Garden court.

But ... did you know this?

Basketball is not Joel's first sport. In fact, if it weren't for some major adversity, he may not have begun playing basketball competitively. As a 14-year-old playing soccer in his native England, he broke his left lag -- badly -- and spent two weeks in the hospital. Not wanting to risk another injury, and being one of the taller kids around, he decided to pick up basketball.

"I didn't want to go through that again," Joel told the London publication The Independent. "I decided to change sport. Being as tall as I was, basketball was an obvious choice. I fell in love with it from the get-go."

In October, Mike Barrett went into detail in his blog, A Break for the Better

Joel playing for his home country, Great Britain, in the 2012 Olympics.

Fast forward a scant four years, and Joel's name was being announced on draft day. Eventually, after six years of honing his basketball skills in Europe, he would actually don his Blazers jersey in the NBA.

Joel has appeared in 31 games with one start. He is averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game. After hitting just one of his first 18 NBA shots, he has made 31 of his subsequent 61 attempts.

Now, you know.


Sources: The Daily Telegraph (U.K.), The Independent (London), NBA.com.

"-- Did You Know" will appear in this blog on a semi-regular basis throughout the sesason, centering on Blazers players and coaches. In Kassandra's Words, features periodic blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @PDXKass


  1. Great post, Kass! As a former footballer myself, I think Joel could have made a decent keeper, but it's nice seeing him adapt to the NBA. I'm really hoping he can show some improvement after the break. Seeing Claver start to pick his game up is making me hopeful that Joel will follow suit!

    by BlazerStache on 2/14/2013 8:37 PM
  2. I wonder what position he used to play in soccer. I think once Joel picks up his game, he'll be nasty, especially if he relates what he learned in soccer to basketball. People might think he's soft, but watch out.

    by bonjustin8 on 2/14/2013 9:07 PM
  3. Enjoyed this blog! I'm a fan of Joel's character, work ethic and all around game. He's stepped up and after the initial jitters with his shot he's shown some chops. I remember Stotts calling him a Nick Collison type player when the season started and I think he'll have a future as a solid role player on the bench. He has good hands and a soft touch with the ball. He's getting comfortable and it shows. I think he's earned more minutes along with Victor and Will.

    by riverman on 2/14/2013 9:20 PM
  4. guys, i'm really seeing a different Joel than who we saw early in the season. it seems to me that he's gaining more and more confidence. i also see that happening with Victor. sure, the bench isn't reliable right now, but over the off-season we really concentrated on filling holes in the starting five. i think we've got a great opportunity to bring these guys along. i only hope that they both get a chance to play some meaningful and consistent minutes. like i said, i really like what i've been seeing from Joel the past several games. hope we see more of it.

    btw Stache & Justin, i looked and there's not a lot of information about when he played soccer. maybe since he stopped at age 14 that info might be tough to come by, other than from Joel himself.

    by Kassandra on 2/14/2013 10:13 PM
  5. Aww yeah. I was thinking that he might have been playing minor league soccer or is being trained to play pro soccer at age 14, because he's from Europe, in the United Kingdom to be exact. Maybe when he injured himself playing soccer at that age, he might have been contemplating at that time on playing pro soccer rather than pro basketball, because the former is more popular in where he came from rather than the latter. Anyway, he's still an NBA rookie. He needs time to adjust to the pace of the NBA.

    by bonjustin8 on 2/15/2013 2:59 AM
  6. Hey Kassandra, finally, I already knew. but loved your blog and a refreshing read.
    I think Joel started growing after he broke his leg, and the reason he had to spend time over seas before he came over was he was brand new to BB, like if my memory serves me right, only about 1 year of actual BB, he mostly just played in pick-up games. So considering how new he is, he is doing great. His problem when he started the NBA was getting used to the NBA rules, as in he really had to concentrate on getting out of the key which took away from his games concentration.

    by Hg on 2/15/2013 10:50 AM
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