WORTON — JayShaun Freeman is such a talent that the injury that robbed him of nearly half a season did not lessen his stature as an impact player.
The Kent County senior shooting guard repeated on the All-North Bayside Conference elite first team chosen by division coaches.
Freeman also repeated as the MVP for the 5-16 Trojans.
He averaged 24 points, nine rebounds and four steals a game — in 12 games.
“Jay was a good 70% of our offense. He controlled the game and teams had to play us differently with him,” said Kent County head coach Sobaye Scott.
“If you leave him open, he’s going to make the shot,” Scott said of Freeman. “If you double-team him, he’s going to make the right decision with the ball. ... He wasn’t selfish. If anything, he was selfless.”
Freeman injured his toe in the third quarter of the season opener Dec. 5 at home against Mardela, sat out about six and a half minutes and then returned to finish with a game-high 20 points in the 69-50 victory.
Five days later, at Queen Anne’s, Freeman came out of the game in the first half after re-injuring his toe.
He did not play another regular-season game until Jan. 23 at North Caroline, where he scored a team-best 23 points in a 66-58 loss.
While injury benched Freeman for nearly six weeks, he continued to be a contributing member of the team. He attended every game wearing his uniform jersey, and enthusiastically cheered on his teammates from the sideline.
He also came to most practices and transitioned into a coaching role.
Scott, who has been the head coach at alma mater Kent for nine years, said Freeman was able to break down plays to his teammates in a way that was easier to grasp “seeing it from a peer’s point of view.”
Scott said the situation with Freeman was a lot like that of Manny Camper in 2016-17, when Camper — now an all-conference player at Division I Siena College in New York — suffered a season-ending injury just before the Trojans embarked on their historic trip to the state Final Four.
Freeman’s value to the team transcended what he did on the court, as was true for Camper.
Scott said he “used the star player to be the big brother for his teammates.”
“The kids respected Jay, like Manny,” Scott said.
Freeman was the North division Player of the Year in 2018-19 after averaging 29.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, seven assists and five steals a game.
Scott is convinced that a healthy Freeman would have been a serious contender to repeat as POTY.
“JayShaun was the only player in the North that every team’s game plan was around stopping. He was always facing double- and triple-teams,” Scott said. “No other team had a player like him.”
Freeman finishes with more than 1,500 career points, second only to Camper (1,951) in KCHS history.
He has had several colleges express an interest, including Division II Catawba in North Carolina and Division I University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The North Bayside coaches’ choice for Player of the Year was North Caroline senior center Kendron Wayman, who is committed to play football for Wake Forest University. He averaged 21 points and 15 rebounds a game for the 13-9 Bulldogs.
The other members of the first team are Kent Island senior guard Cole Kratovil; Colonel Richardson senior guard Diante Dickerson; and Cambridge junior forward Vejon Ashley.
Marty Bailey Jr., who led Cambridge (19-5) to the North division title, was chosen Coach of the Year.