Prep Basketball

Cedar Rapids Xavier hires alum Mike Freeman as new boys' basketball coach

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Mike Freeman was on his way to perhaps being a college basketball head coach someday.

He’d been a team manager for the Iowa Hawkeyes under Steve Alford, doing a lot of video work and scouting reports of opponents. After graduation, he’d worked for a couple of programs, including the University of Idaho.

Then a funny thing happened. Life got in the way.

He got married, moved back to Cedar Rapids and started a family with his wife, Jana. He worked full time at Hawkeye Communication in town and helped with Coe College’s program on the side.

The head coaching thing kind of went away. Until Thursday.

That’s when Cedar Rapids Xavier announced Freeman will be its new head boys’ basketball coach. He takes over for Ryan Luehrsmann, who recently stepped down to spend more time with his family.

“I kind of told my wife I wouldn’t be getting into the (head coaching) ranks if it was any other job,” said Freeman, a 2001 Xavier grad. “But this was just a great opportunity. I grew up in the Catholic community, my mom taught in the community, my wife was a preschool director in the Catholic community. Being from here, it just has a special place in our hearts. This is where our kids go to school. To be able to be a part of it and hopefully build some continued success for the program is really why I was interested in it. Just excited to get my feet wet and get things moving.”

Freeman said he has not had a meeting with returning Xavier players, yet, but he’s got a pretty good idea about most of them.

He has helped out with the Xavier football program since he came back to town. He scouted many of them, obviously, at Coe.

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He and Luehrsmann have become friends through being summer cabin neighbors in Prairie du Chien, Wis. And Freeman’s dad, Greg, has been seventh-grade coach at Regis Middle School, a Xavier feeder, for 20 years.

“He likes to give his opinion,” Freeman said, with a laugh. “But I don’t know if it’s worth anything.”

Xavier finished 9-12 this past season, though Luehrsmann led the Saints to back-to-back Class 3A state championships in 2016 and 2017, as well as third-place finishes in 2015 and 2018.

Freeman follows Cedar Rapids Washington’s Justin Decker as current Metro head coaches who came to their schools after being assistants at Coe.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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