After news broke last night that Austin Freeman had been diagnosed with diabetes, the Hoyas’ leading scorer spoke with the media this afternoon to address his health and its impact on his basketball career.
The junior guard, sitting alongside head coach John Thompson III, professed he was feeling fine after spending the early part of the week in the hospital. While both player and coach acknowledged that there was still a lot to learn about the situation, it sounded like the return to normalcy had already begun.
“When I first found out I was just like, ‘I’m going to have to deal with it,’” Freeman said. “But it’s just going to be a few adjustments I’m going to have to do in my life now. To hear that, it was tough at first, but I know that with me, I can deal with something like this.”
Freeman first showed signs of the disease last Saturday before an afternoon game against Notre Dame, symptoms that at that time were attributed to a stomach virus. He traveled with the team to West Virginia for a Monday night game, but took a turn for the worse Saturday night and was sent back to campus and Georgetown University Hospital.
On Monday, Freeman was diagnosed with diabetes, a disease he said he shares with his paternal grandmother. It is not yet known whether Freeman has the Type I or the less serious Type II form of the disease.
Freeman said that he has been monitoring his blood sugar levels and taking insulin shots, and has been able to keep his condition under control since leaving the hospital. Nevertheless, there will be a doctor on hand with the team for the rest of the season whenever Freeman takes the court. Freeman, Thompson, and medical personnel are still evaluating when he will play again.
“This education process we anticipate being a short period,” Thompson said. “I say that to say he will be back—if not Saturday [against Cincinnati], this year, 100 percent. And it may be Saturday … With all the support that we have and all the experts that we have I don’t anticipate it being long.”
Freeman was back in practice Wednesday afternoon and was reportedly playing as well as he has all season. As former Georgetown head coach John Thompson, Jr. told him, he “shot the hell out of the ball.”
Concerned text messages and calls had been flooding his phone all day, but the preternaturally stoic Freeman was exceedingly calm as he discussed his diagnosis and the lifestyle changes he would be forced to make.
“That’s just Austin,” sophomore guard Jason Clark said. “Austin is just calm about everything. That does help us a lot, because if he was panicking about it that would make us feel kind of tense and everything. But since he’s calm about it, that does help us stay calm about it.”
The other Hoyas were very supportive of their teammate, explaining their concern when he did not show up at breakfast Monday morning in West Virginia and committing to learn more about diabetes to be able to support Freeman.
His teammates also acknowledged the importance of Freeman to the team’s basketball success, a fact made clear by Georgetown’s consecutive losses while Freeman was sick. The junior’s health is his primary concern now, but Freeman can’t wait to get back in a game.
“This is what I love to do. I love to play basketball,” he said. “Just for me to be back on the court and playing with my teammates, it’s just going to mean a lot for me.”