heinnews has built a reputation internationally on reporting about young basketball players. And now we are starting a new section on the site – Youngsters In-Depth. In the first installment, David Hein looks at Bayern Munich’s 14-year-old Richard Freudenberg of the club’s U16 JBBL league team. The 2.00m (6’5”) forward, who doesn’t turn 15 until August 31, is averaging 20.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 1.8 assists and 5.0 turnovers in six JBBL games. He has collected three double-doubles including 30 points and 10 rebounds vs. Junior Baskets Vilsbiburg. In December, Freundenberg was nominated for Germany’s U16 national team for the 2013 summer
heinnews caught up with Bayern youth coach Berthold Bisselik to talk about Freundenberg and his development. And here are the coach’s thoughts about the club’s top talent.
General thoughts about Freundenberg:
“Richard is an unbelievable talent. In regards to his variety of movements, he picks up new movements and can immediately repeat them and implement them into his game. He can go with his right or his left hand, he has a jump hook, has layups in all variations. Because he grew 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) within two years, his ball-handling can definitely be improved. But he can also dribble the ball up the court. He’s versatile. We will have to wait and see in what position he lands. He can play on the wing and has a post-up game. He looks elegant in everything he does.”
On Richard’s quick growth:
“He is growing so fast that we are really working on his body, working on his athleticism, his stability. His body grows out of proportion very quickly so we have to work with doctors and physios to make sure that everything is stable. You can see that he has a good body and that it is well built. He has a really clean shot. But he is still a child – born in August 1998. Still, if you look at him, you think you are working with an adult. He’s very intelligent, very smart. But he’s only 14 years old. And you always have to remember that. He’s very developed in his whole game. Sometimes there will be a game like today where the opponent (Nürnberger BC) will only press and he has to learn to deal better with that pressure. But like I said, that’s what we need. He did not really show what he can do. But you cannot expect a 14-year-old like Richard Freudenberg to get 40 points and 20 rebounds in every game. But it probably didn’t look too bad in the box score (20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 6 TOs). But he has good proportions in his body. His shot is great and then three weeks later it’s not as stabile because he grew again. Still, he’s growing so homogenously that his versatility is not suffering.”
On if Freudenberg can stay on the wing, especially since he looks so comfortable in the low post:
“I think he has to. A player like Richard, who may end up at 2.05 (6’9”) or wherever, must be able to play both inside and outside. He has played both. He played a lot of face-up. We need him to learn more of a post-up and inside game to really be able to use it. On the other hand, he can really play face-up well, taking the shot directly or dribble once and then drive. But he still needs to learn how to make decisions on the drive – finding open teammates etc. But I can’t really say if he will be more of a 3-4 or 4-3. We have to wait and see about his development. But I am certain that he can play both positions. I think his quickness will decide how much 3 he plays. But I have faith that he can do it.”
About his shot from the outside:
“He’s got a really stable technique. Sometimes he’s a little hectic in games like today where there’s a lot of pressure. But he has had games where he has shot very well from outside. He has a good step-back, so he can get his shot off in that way as well. I think he will have a lot of possibilities in his one-on-one game. We can look in the future if he needs to change his shot a bit. But right now, what’s important is that his technique is stable and develops. And that is the case.”
About Richard’s personality:
“Richard is a highly-intelligent guy who really enjoys practicing hard. Those are always the best traits. You don’t have to push him. He comes out on his own – both to athletics workouts and individual workouts. He is dependable and does his school work. Richard is going to the Gymansium (highest level of grammar schooling). He is a great guy. In my long career, I have met a lot of players who were highly talented but were unbelievably difficult and it was always the question if it made sense to work hard with them. You have to give it a try. You can see it right now with Dennis Schröder, it has clicked. But Richard is absolutely suited for professional basketball – both in terms of attitude and the possibilities of his development.
On his importance to the development of Bayern and the Germany national team:
“He is playing youth international. I have been doing this for 25 years and it’s so difficult to really give a reliable prediction, but I believe he can have a BBL career and at least a chance at the German national team. For us (Bayern), it’s great to have these kinds of players and that’s our goal. We want to deal with them every day and find the right balance. Richard is 14 years old and we don’t want him to play anywhere and everywhere. And we’re definitely not doing that. We don’t want to put him into situations where he is physically overstrained. On the other hand, he has been playing three or four years in teams who are dominating and he also has to learn what it’s like to play tight games. We need to keep this balance and our main goal is to train and develop them.
Where is he playing within the team’s system:
He is playing with the JBBL. He could play with the third team but the league is not good enough. But he can and should practice things he cannot do with us – playing point guard. In the second half, he will play more and more in the U18 team. I would rather have him play there all the time. It’s a question of the quality of the league. But it’s not that good if he plays against players four years older and are taking him apart. We want to slowly lead him one step up at a time and see where the best is.