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Barrett: Joel Freeland Went From Playing In The Park To Great Britain's National Team

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Mike Barrett of Blazers.com has a look at Portland Trail Blazers forward/center Joel Freeland, from Great Britain.

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Mike Barrett of Blazers.com has an extended piece on Portland Trail Blazers forward/center Joel Freeland, a British big man who is making the jump from the Spanish ACB league this season.

Barrett writes that this isn't Freeland's first career transition, as he left soccer for basketball as a teenager.

And, if not for a P.E. teacher's suggestion, he says he probably wouldn't have turned to basketball. He was 17 now, and had gotten taller. His teacher noticed, placed a basketball in his hands and simply said,"why don't you try basketball?"

...

He quickly got himself on to a local team, the TVTigers/Guildford Heat, and things came naturally. Obviously, for a kid who was already 6-9, he had built-in advantages that the other kids didn't have.

"That first year I was just kind of messing around with my friends, playing at the park everyday," remembered Freeland. "Simply just from playing at the park I was noticed, and the next thing I knew I got an invitation to play with the under-18 national team in England. At that point I had only been playing the game for one year, and hadn't ever had any kind of formal training."

Freeland is one of three players angling for Portland's starting center position. Details here.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter