Bulls Host Local Star for Pre-Draft Workout, Arturas Karnisovas a ‘Big Fan’

Chicago Bulls

Getty Javon Freeman-Liberty #4 of the DePaul Blue Demons dribbles

The Chicago Bulls recently got a closer look at DePaul star Javon Freeman-Liberty. In his exit interview, Bulls vice president of basketball operations, Arturas Karnisovas, said that his next focus was on the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23.

This workout is the latest effort on that front and follows a strategy that has worked out for the Bulls and Karnisovas in particular.

They recently worked out 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto of the NBL who would fill a position of need. But Bulls.com’s Sam Smith figures Sotto is more likely to be brought in as an undrafted free agent since he carries a second-round projection and they lack a second-round pick.

Freeman-Liberty’s outlook is similar. But one thing that could separate him is an important fan.

Tale of the Tape

Freeman-Liberty has twice tested the NBA Draft waters. But coming off of a career-best season in which he averaged 21.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists could be viewed as proof that his decision to wait was a smart one.

What’s more, his decision to transfer to DePaul could be the biggest driving factor in his potentially landing with his hometown team.

That is because, in his two seasons of playing in the South Loop, Karnisovas became a fan.

The 6-foot-4 combo guard was impactful in his two seasons at Valparaiso.

He earned All-Defensive honors in the Missouri Valley Conference twice and was named All-MVC in 2020 among other accolades.

Freeman-Liberty’s production slipped from 19.0 points and 6.1 boards with 3.2 assists in his final season at Valpo to 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 dimes in his first with the Blue Demons. He bounced back in a big way as a senior knocking down a career-high 36.8% of his triples.

Even better, Freeman-Liberty took his game to another level in conference play, averaging 22.6 points with 6.5 boards, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals while hitting 39.7% of his threes.

Putting Chicago Back in the Bulls

Karnisovas has taken the local route before, drafting Ayo Dosunmu out of the University of Illinois with the 38th-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Dosunmu earned second-team All-Rookie honors far outplaying his draft position.

Freeman-Liberty, a standout at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, has a chance to be the next.

While the Bulls do not own a second-round pick this year, Smith points out that it is always possible they purchase one if they feel a player is worth it.

Joshua M. Hicks, assistant sports editor for The DePaulia this past season and senior writer for WARR Media, tells Heavy that Freeman-Liberty is a “leader” who will do “whatever it takes to win”.

“He is a two-way player who can guard the perimeter and get you a bucket whenever and wherever on the court.”

But his intangibles are what could make him an attractive option for the Bulls much in the same ways that Dosunmu was.

“Most importantly, he is a winner…It doesn’t matter what his stat lines are at the end of every game. If they didn’t win, he didn’t do his job. Everything is team-oriented and winning is the top priority for him.”

More Two-Way Players

The “whatever it takes” mentality will certainly play well at the next level. There, Freeman-Liberty’s effort and energy on the defensive end will earn him playing time before his scoring ability as prolific as he may have been for his school as Hicks explained.

Freeman-Liberty became the first player to receive the All-Big East Second Team honor since Paul Reed in 2020….and was named Big East Player of the Week three times.

His quick hands and understanding of passing lanes showed up throughout his collegiate career. He averaged 2.2 steals in his final season in Valparaiso and finished averaging 1.9 swipes overall.

That he is, as Hicks described, a “two-way player” cannot be ignored.

Karnisovas was asked about that in his exit interview and how he will build the roster around less-than-stellar defenders in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic.

That improvement should include adding to the depth with players that can add the scrappier aspects to the team.

Freeman-Liberty – whose uncle, Marcus Liberty, played five years in the NBA – profiles as one of those players. His ability to impact the game on both ends has shown up at every stop along the way.

Built for the Bulls

His uncle drilled into him that what he did in high school would be different from what he did in college. DePaul head coach Tony Stubblefield told 247 Sports’ Joey Pollize what it took for Freeman-Walker to get to this point.

“Javon is a very good player. He’s put himself in this position by the work that he has put in. He has a high basketball I.Q.”

Now, we just have to see if his game will indeed transfer to the next level as it did throughout his college career. Perhaps he can get that chance with the Bulls.


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