The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 1, 2013

Trio leave mark on NWOSU basketball

ALVA, Okla. — Eight years later, one 10-minute phone call has had a profound impact on the Northwestern Oklahoma State basketball record books.

In a casual conversation, Northwestern head coach Andrew Brown — then an assistant — lamented to an old coaching friend about his need for a scoring point guard.

“It just so happened, he had signed a kid out of Aldine High School in Houston,” Brown recalls. “That kid had an unsigned teammate named Brandon Brown, who was pretty dang good in his opinion.”

Andrew Brown followed up on the tip and was equally impressed. Brandon Brown came to Northwestern and —– —— four years later – left as the school’s third all-time leading scorer.

Coach Brown not only found an impact player, but also found a new recruiting niche in the basketball-rich Houston area.

“Brandon was only 5-foot-8 and was kind of an overlooked player. I actually had high school coaches from the area calling to congratulate me on my scouting,” Brown laughed. “Through that, I started to develop a lot of contacts in the area.”

To the point where seven current Rangers hale from the Houston area, including seniors Marshall Bell and Jonathan Freemyer, who were freshman starters during Brandon Brown’s final season in Alva.

“I think they watched him pretty closely as freshmen. They looked up to him,” Andrew Brown said. “We still talk about Brandon and some of the shots he used to make.”

Fast forward three more years and the students have become masters in their own rite. Bell (1,482 points) and Freemyer (1,475) sit fourth and fifth on Northwestern’s career scoring list and will each have a chance to catch Brown (1,488) in today’s season finale against Southern Nazarene at Percefull Fieldhouse.

Regardless of the final order, one conversation will have ultimately have led to three of the top five leading scorers in school history.

“That’s pretty amazing. You’d have never predicted it,” Brown said.

Throw in senior Daryl Glover, who reached 1,000 just over two weeks ago, and Northwestern boasts three active 1,000-point scorers — a first for the program.

All three were talented enough to start as freshman, but Glover — who took a redshirt prior to the arrival of Bell and Freemyer — is by far the most improved of the bunch.

“That’s just a testament to how hard he’s worked,” Brown said. “He’s improved every year in every single area – as a player, a teammate and as a person.’’

The point guard from Inglewood, Calif., came in with speed and athleticism, but a steadily improving jump shot has lifted his game to a whole new level. Of Glover’s 1,096 career points, 750 have come over the last two seasons.

“I made it a point this summer to work on my jumper and take better and smarter shots,” said Glover. “It’s faith. I believe in my shot now. I think it’s going in every time.

Freemyer — a 6-foot-6 forward from Kingwood, Texas – has also refined his game. He’s averaging a career-best 16.8 points heading into the week, but his most significant improvement has been between the ears.

“He came in with great fundamentals, and he’s got great hands. He catches everything,” said Brown. “But he really took off as a sophomore because he got more aggressive.”

Brown still remembers the moment when he first saw Bell play basketball as a senior in Katy, Texas. To the casual observer, Bell appeared to be a non-factor, taking just a handful of shots. Brown couldn’t have been more impressed.

“The other team was running a triangle-and-two against him,” Brown remembers, describing a defensive scheme, which calls for a double-team against a particularly strong offensive player while the remaining three play zone defense.

“He barely scored, but I knew he must be pretty dangerous if they were going to that much trouble to stop him.”

Glover is the slasher and floor general, Freemyer is the post-presence, but defenses had best not lose track of Bell. The sharp-shooter leaves as Northwestern’s career leader in threes with 308 and counting.

Having multiple scoring options can make for a good offense. When those threats complement one another, the bar goes even higher.

“We’ve been to every practice and game together for four years, so we know what the other is going to do,” said Freemyer. “We’re on a different level with our chemistry.”

The trio plays its final home game today against Southern Nazarene. They’re 38-18 at Percefull Fieldhouse in the past four years.

“It’s going to be hard to walk off the floor. This is where I’ve been every night the past four years,” Bell said. “The greatest people I’ve ever met, I met here. I miss home, but this will be a special place in my heart, too. It’s going to be tough to leave for sure.”

Of course, Senior Day hoopla and all-time scoring lists takes a back seat with the Rangers tied for first place in the Great American Conference. A win guarantees Northwestern (14-11 overall and 12-7 in conference) a share of the best record.

“Whenever we first got here, me and Marshall always talked about winning the national championship,” Freemyer said. “We never achieved that, but we can still put our stamp on this place and leave a legacy – not just as great basketball players, but as a great team.”

For the Rangers, it would be an ideal beginning to a new era in the NCAA and, for three seniors, the perfect ending.

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