The EnviroNZ Bulls has continued its push towards building a strong Sal's NBL championship squad with the signing of Kiwi big man Matthew Freeman.
The Aucklander has committed to the Bulls for his Rookie Sal's NBL season.
While it's his first New Zealand 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.
The Kiwi has been competing in the same league against last year's Bulls import signing, Grant Dressler, who unfortunately was unable to come to New Zealand due to Covid-19.
Since 2016, Freeman has been making it big in the US, most notably playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, where he spent some time playing alongside 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.
The Sooners scored a 133-91 win.
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 team's 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 his home League, 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 team 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," Reddish added.
General Manager, Scott Kelso says having Freeman in the squad helps add to the building blocks of a team that is working to build a strong legacy in the League long-term.
"The Sal's NBL celebrates 40 years in 2021 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 Sal's NBL game for."
"Obviously this is my first season at home, but I love any chance I get to play at home in front of the people that I love," added 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.