Connor Mackay caught up with UEL scholar and Lions player Blayne Freckleton about life as a student and competing in the BBL.
Basketball player Blayne Freckleton plays shooting guard for the London Lions and UEL Men’s first team. He is in his last year at university, and hoping to advance onto a master’s degree. He is now in his second year with the Lions after debuting in the BBL in January 2014.
Coming to UEL, Freckleton took up a scholarship. Having won numerous times with UEL, and going to the BUCs final eights, his time at the BBL has improved his understanding of the game and the physical side, to complement his skill levels.
The London Lions are currently sixth in the table with an 11-12 record behind Glasgow Rocks who are in fifth, with 10 games left and the fourth spot the Lions have been coveting is still up for grabs.
“It’s always a good thing for the team to get better every game,” said Freckleton. “It took us quite long [to] click, but I feel like we’ve got it now. We’re going into the play offs quite strong. Hopefully we will improve.”
Although The Lions are in a good position in the table and the chemistry between the team is developing, there is still scope for them to become top contenders in the league. “We go up against people like Leicester and Newcastle, who have been solid throughout the year, [whereas] we are up and down, so there is definitely room for improvement.”
In his second season Freckleton has played a handful of games with the Lions and with contrasting results. But the Lions are looking stronger with every game and young and upcoming stars like Freckleton are assisting the team as they aim to move up the table.
Freckleton‘s most memorable game of the season was when the Lions played Plymouth at home. “Everyone was involved, everyone did their job. It gave a rest for some of our starters and everyone just played 15 minutes. I think that [works] the best, they weren’t upset because they didn’t play much or not upset because they played too much. Those are always the best games when you all play together.”
As one of the youngest players on the Lions team, Freckleton, aged 22, doesn’t receive as much exposure as he does at university, with whom he has become a visible presence around the UEL campus. “It’s great, obviously you get recognition with the Lions; sometimes it is good to be a ‘sort-of’ star, but more recognised somewhere else. I’m not really recognised that much at the Lions, being one of the youngest players. . . I can’t complain about that.”
As he is beginning to grow into the BBL, Freckleton feels that he has excelled not only as a player but is able to give back to the community, joining other Lions players in coaching children under 18. “I do some coaching for ‘ICanWin Sports’. I also do the Lions stuff within the community, and I’ve also set up coaching at home and got other coaches to work for it. I use my status as a professional and put that into schools in Milton Keynes and let the other coaches do what they’re doing as it helps create job opportunities for them.”
Freckleton is not only showing progress during games: he is giving something back at a local level. And there is definitely much more to see from him with 10 games to go in the season.