Syracuse Basketball: 4-star Donnie Freeman, IMG in top 10, experts tell us

Syracuse basketball, Donnie Freeman (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Donnie Freeman (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball 2024 four-star commit Donnie Freeman from Washington, D.C., and his new teammates at the powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., are expected to be a preseason top-10 squad ahead of the upcoming season, if not the top five, multiple high-school experts have told me in recent days.

Recently, Freeman, a 6-foot-9 power forward who verbally committed to the Orange in May, said on social media that he would transfer from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., to IMG, which is a premier high-school basketball program.

IMG suits up in the country’s top high-school league, the 10-member National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (“NIBC”), and the Ascenders participated in this past spring’s GEICO Nationals, reaching the semifinals of this eight-team event.

In the 2022-23 campaign, according to MaxPreps national basketball editor Jordan Divens, IMG went 18-8 overall against a brutal schedule, while sporting an 8-4 mark in NIBC games, putting the Ascenders in a tie for third place within the conference’s regular-season standings.

On August 8, Divens published his early preseason NIBC power rankings for 2023-24, and he placed IMG in the No. 4 position, although this article did come out before Freeman said he would transfer to the Ascenders, a group that by the way won the GEICO Nationals back in 2019.

Syracuse basketball commit Donnie Freeman and IMG are forecast as a top-10 national team.

After word broke that Syracuse basketball pledge Donnie Freeman, who scored a Peach Jam title on the Nike EYBL circuit in early July, would move to the Sunshine State for his senior season, I caught up with a handful of experts to get a sense from them of where IMG is deemed in 2023-24 preseason projections.

In a recent telephone interview, ESPN recruiting director Paul Biancardi told me that IMG will be a preseason top-10 team “for sure.” Some other heavyweights that Biancardi mentioned to me for the 2023-24 season include the Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., which won the 2022-23 NIBC regular-season crown, Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville, N.Y., the La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind., and the Link Academy in Branson, Mo., which captured this spring’s GEICO Nationals.

Samad Hines, a well-respected high-school hoops analyst and scout, said to me via Twitter, “I currently have IMG ranked top-5 coming in as of today (could change by October), they definitely have a strong chance to make it to the GEICO title game as well.”

Divens tells me that IMG will begin the 2023-24 term ranked in the top 10 across the country. He noted that the Ascenders have brought on board several top-flight players, including Donnie Freeman. I’ll have more on that below.

Those additions, according to Divens, boost IMG’s “chances to finish in the top half of the NIBC standings and secure a bid at GEICO Nationals next season.”

The high-school hoops analyst/scout who runs the Twitter account 24/7 High School Hoops also sent me some information. He says that IMG is likely a preseason top-three or top-four squad in the NIBC, along with Montverde, Long Island Lutheran and La Lumiere. As I’ve noted in other recent columns, multiple Syracuse basketball four-star and five-star targets will compete for NIBC groups in 2023-24.

Per 24/7 High School Hoops, he says he “would be shocked if IMG didn’t make GEICO Nationals because they certainly have the talent to get there and make a run.”

Donnie Freeman, these days, hovers around the No. 30 to the No. 40 national prospect in the rising-senior cycle. MADE Hoops recently put him at No. 18 overall in the 2024 class. So his decision to join IMG is, undeniably, a positive for the Ascenders’ 2023-24 roster.

However, in recent months, several other highly rated prospects have also transferred to IMG.

Spearheading this movement to IMG is 2025 five-star point guard Darius Acuff Jr., who earlier in August said he would transfer to the Ascenders from Cass Technical High School in Detroit. Acuff is a top-10 overall player in his class.

In early July, 2024 four-star small forward Chase McCarty transferred from the Westminster Christian Academy in Huntsville, Ala., to IMG. The month prior to that, 2024 four-star shooting guard Cole Certa, who is verbally committed to Notre Dame, left Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, Ill., for the Ascenders.

Other talented prospects expected to be on IMG’s 2023-24 roster are 2024 four-star small forward Amier Ali, 2025 four-star small forward Amari Allen and 2024 four-star power forward Khani Rooths, among others.

Syracuse Basketball: If 5-star commits, 2024 class may be No. 1 nationally. dark. Next