With all the constantly circulating discussions about teams and rankings, it’s become clearer that Freedom Christian is one of the most underrated and overlooked teams in North Carolina. They might not have the storied history and recent success like some, but their talent is plenty rich. This group has quickly jetted out to a 10-2 start and, although they haven’t necessarily played the toughest schedule, there’s an obvious amount of things to like. Their two losses have come at the hands of a pair of undeniably talented squads in Liberty Heights and Trinity Christian. Liberty Heights has proven themselves as a top tier team but Freedom was missing two of their top seven guys. Meanwhile, they took Trinity Christian, who is also considered a top five private school team, to overtime. A loss is a loss in both regards, but the takeaways go far beyond the final score. 

Before diving into the makeup of their roster, one should realize that this group has been granted zero adjustment period to gather any type of footing. With a new coaching staff and a complete roster overhaul, struggles are to be expected. However, they’ve won the games they are supposed to win and gone toe-to-toe with high-level opponents. Given what coach Brandon Clifford has already done with this group in a month of game action only implies that they’ll continue trending upward for the remainder of this season.

When looking at their roster, the story becomes even more impressive. Only Manrique Alvarado and Aymeric Toussaint have true playing experience with each other, both playing for Freedom and summer ball for most of the last two years. Add in nearly a dozen newcomers, almost all from different areas and speaking different languages, and it’s incredible how respectable they’ve already become. Jayden Doyle (pictured) has been the biggest addition and led this team in convincing fashion through twelve games, making it nearly impossible for Clifford to take him off the floor. Alvarado has always been a gamer with the corresponding skillset to effectively run a team in high school and beyond. Toussaint still highlights flashes of superstar potential and, since big men take slightly longer to fully develop, one would be smart to continue betting on his upside. Kirill Filimonov is the youngest player on the roster but has an impeccable combination of size, skill, and perimeter shooting; he’s already well beyond his years in various different ways. Bosko Mihailovic is a quality, scholarship-level combo guard that seems to get better with each game. They have plenty of reliable contributors off the bench, namely Fuat Farisoglu and Milos Filipovic, who know how to play within the team and embrace their role.

Basically, this team possesses all the makings of a yearly title contender but has been forced to accelerate the process in order to compete right now. They are only going to get better, both as a team and individuals, and should ultimately surprise plenty of folks throughout the remaining two months of this season. Could Freedom Christian carve out a path to a state championship as soon as this season? We’ll have to wait and see…