DePaul basketball: Homecoming for Javon Freeman-Liberty

Joining DePaul basketball was a sort of homecoming for Javon Freeman-Liberty.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Freeman-Liberty first started making a name for himself at Whitney Young High School. At Whitney Young, he played a key role in securing the Dolphins’ state title in 2017. As a senior in 2018, Freeman-Liberty averaged almost 20 points and six rebounds per game, earning his first team all-state honors while also taking the Dolphins to the state championships that year. He finished fifth in Illinois’s Mr. Basketball voting and was named a top-10 player in the Illinois Class of 2018.

After his graduation from Whitney Young, Freeman-Liberty committed to playing for the Valparaiso Crusaders. As a freshman, he started all 33 games, averaging 11 points, roughly four rebounds and nearly two steals a game while playing on average 31 minutes per game.

Freeman-Liberty was known for his records in steals at Valparaiso. He was the first freshman Crusader to lead the conference in a major stat category when he led the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in steals and also holds the record for most steals by a freshman in their debut season with 60.

As a freshman, he reached double-digits in 17 of 33 games and led the team in steals in 20 games. He also helped the Crusaders win their first conference tournament game with an opening-round win over Indiana State. In that game, Freeman-Liberty posted team highs of seven rebounds and three steals. At the close of his freshman year, he was named to the MVC All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams.

During his sophomore year, Freeman-Liberty just kept getting better. During this year, he started putting up nationally-acclaimed numbers. He ranked 12th nationally in steals (74), 15th in steals per game (2.24), 18th in total field goals made (227), 27th in total points scored (628) and 49th in points per game (19). In the MVC, he finished the season second in points per game, sixth in rebounds per game, sixth in assists per game and first in steals per game. Freeman-Liberty also became the 11th player in the nation to surpass 400 career points with a January victory over Indiana State.

In his sophomore season, Freeman-Liberty created a new school record for steals in a single season (74). He was on track to become the second player in program history to reach 1,000 career points, but the Postseason Tournament was canceled, leaving him with 992 career points as a Crusader.

During Valparaiso’s regular season, he scored in the double digits in all 29 regular season appearances. He was also named to the MVC’s Most-Improved Team, All-Defensive Team and All-Tournament Team as well as finishing second for MVC Defensive Player of the Year and finishing third for the Larry Bird Player of the Year.

After his two years at Valparaiso, Freeman-Liberty announced that he was declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft, while still planning to keep his college eligibility.

“I’m testing the waters,” he said, “getting feedback right now about how I can make my game better.”

Soon after, he pulled his name from the draft and entered the transfer portal. On May 1, 2020, Freeman-Liberty announced on Twitter that he had committed to DePaul. He said he wanted to be closer to home to be with his grandmother. Freeman-Liberty then applied for a waiver to be eligible to play the 2020-21 season and was granted that waiver by the NCAA in November 2020.

“I love the city of Chicago,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “That’s where I grew up. It means a lot.”

As a Blue Demon, Freeman-Liberty has started every game for DePaul this season. So far, he’s averaging nearly 13 points a game as well as almost five rounds and three assists. In line with his steal capabilities, he’s still averaging over a steal a game. At DePaul, Freeman-Liberty notched his 1000th career point (Dec. 23), recorded his 50th career game in double figures (Dec. 27), his 75th career game (Jan. 27) and scored a win against his former team (Jan. 16).

As Charlie Moore’s right hand man, Freeman-Liberty is a light in the dark for a DePaul team that’s seen its fair share of struggles this season and in many seasons prior. With at least one more year of eligibility for the 2021-22 season, Blue Demon fans should be excited to see what heights can be reached for him and for the team.

Photo by Eric Henry | The DePaulia