Syracuse Basketball: 4-star Donnie Freeman, IMG will face brutal schedule

Syracuse basketball, Donnie Freeman (Syndication: The News-Press)
Syracuse basketball, Donnie Freeman (Syndication: The News-Press) /

Syracuse basketball 2024 four-star commit Donnie Freeman from Washington, D.C., will spend his senior year at the powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and he’s likely to face some of the country’s top teams in the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Freeman, a 6-foot-9, four-star power forward, recently said that he would transfer to IMG from St. John’s College High School in D.C. IMG plays in the nation’s top high-school league, the 10-member National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (“NIBC”). Freeman verbally committed to the Orange in May.

While it doesn’t appear that IMG’s full 2023-24 schedule has been disclosed, based on the Ascenders’ membership in the NIBC and in looking at IMG’s docket from a stanza ago, we can start to surmise some of the foes that Donnie Freeman may go up against in his senior term.

In 2022-23, the Ascenders finished at 18-8 overall, per the MaxPreps Web site, and that included an 8-4 mark in NIBC games. IMG was in a tie for third place within the NIBC’s regular-season standings in 2022-23, and the Ascenders also reached the semifinals of this past spring’s eight-team GEICO Nationals.

I recently caught up with multiple high-school hoops experts after Freeman transferred to IMG. These experts view the Ascenders as a preseason top-10 national team ahead of 2023-24, with IMG forecast to finish in the top four of the NIBC and make a significant run at another GEICO Nationals berth.

Syracuse basketball commit Donnie Freeman will play top teams.

As it relates to IMG’s 2023-24 schedule, word did just come out in recent days that the Ascenders are one of numerous elite groups that will compete at the 2023 City of Palms Classic from December 18 to December 23 in Fort Myers, Fla.

Other expected participants in this season’s City of Palms Classic include heavyweights such as Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville, N.Y., St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly, Va., Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia, Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., the Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., the Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., and the Link Academy in Branson, Mo., which won the 2023 GEICO Nationals.

Per MaxPreps, in 2022-23, IMG battled fellow NIBC members such as Montverde, Long Island Lutheran and the La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind., among others.

Montverde’s stacked 2023-24 roster features several former Orange recruits, including 2024 five-star big man Derik Queen, 2024 four-star point guard Robert Wright III, who is verbally committed to Baylor, and 2024 four-star point guard Curtis Givens III.

Long Island Lutheran’s line-up for the upcoming stanza includes 2025 four-star shooting guard Kiyan Anthony, a ‘Cuse priority target, and 2025 four-star point guard Nigel James, who was planning to take an unofficial visit to the Hill this coming weekend to play in the Syracuse basketball annual Elite Camp.

La Lumiere, meanwhile, added numerous transfers this off-season, including 2025 five-star point guard Jerry Easter II and 2025 four-star combo guard Darius Adams, both of whom were offered a scholarship by the Orange in the summer of 2022.

Other NIBC foes that IMG will probably suit up against in 2023-24 include the Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, and the Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

Current Syracuse basketball sophomore point guard Judah Mintz played his senior season at Oak Hill, while ‘Cuse sophomore forward Chris Bell spent his senior year at Wasatch.

Might Donnie Freeman go toe to toe with his former team in 2023-24? A term ago, St. John’s College stunned IMG in our nation’s capital.

Another top-flight group that IMG played, and lost to, in 2022-23 was Huntington Expression Prep in Huntington, W.Va. Darryn Peterson, who was offered by Syracuse basketball in late April, recently transferred to Huntington from the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, for his junior season.

The 6-foot-5 Peterson, a five-star shooting guard in the 2025 cycle, recently moved up to No. 2 nationally in his class, according to several recruiting services.

With some NIBC contests and other showcase events to be aired on national television, I’m excited to watch Donnie Freeman play the best of the best in 2023-24, including against numerous Orange recruiting targets.

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