Samson James Froling was born on the 10th of February, 2000 in Townsville, Queensland. His family are all basketball players, his dad Shane played 20 years in the NBL, his mother Jenny won four championships in the WNBL, his sisters Alicia and Keely have both played college basketball and in the WNBL, and his brother Harry Froling currently plays in the NBL.
Samson established himself on international radars at the 2017 Basketball without Borders. He has been a key piece for Queensland junior teams and for Australian youth teams at the junior levels of FIBA competition. After committing to Creighton and playing one season there, Froling left to pursue a professional career making him auto-eligible for the NBA Draft this year. He played for the Dandenong Rangers in the NBL1 before playing last season with the Illawarra Hawks. This past off-season, he re-signed with the Hawks for the next two seasons.
Froling has legit center height, having been listed at 7 foot at Creighton and for the Hawks, though he is probably 6’11″. He isn’t especially heavy for a center and appears to be reasonably lean. However, over the past few years it has been clear that Froling has added a considerable amount of strength and muscle mass as he appears clearly larger. He is listed at 109kg (240 lbs) by the Hawks for the upcoming season, very impressive considering he was in the 90s only a couple of years ago. The muscle growth is very promising going forward and it makes the lean figure not a concern. Even with a lean build Froling is quite strong and has the ability to post up and has shown at lower levels that he can straight up overpower defenders.
The added strength and muscle mass has not come at the expense of mobility. For a big man he still moves very well. He can handle the ball and has the flexibility and movement ability to fake hand offs and attack the rim. His mobility is also apparent on defense where he can move his feet well. While he moves well he still lacks highlight reel athleticism in the terms of vertical pop. To play in the NBA Froling will likely have to improve his ability to play above the rim.
Froling has the ability to face up, post up or put the ball on the floor and drive. His shooting from deep hasn’t been very effective from a numbers standpoint yet but he has shown flashes from time to time. His stroke has no major mechanical flaws. He shoots a relatively smooth left-handed shot with a typical southpaw style. His free throw percentages have been consistently in the high 60s to low 70s in NBL and FIBA competition. The smooth stroke, percentage from the free throw line, and volume from three provide a positive outlook for Froling’s long term shooting.
As a post player he loves to turn over his right shoulder for a baby hook with his left hand. He is deceptively strong and uses pivots well to get to a shot he likes. He gets deep post position and pins his man under the rim, especially in transition where he runs the floor to get early position. Even though he prefers getting to his left hand he shows nice touch on shots around the rim with either hand. At lower levels Froling has played bully ball and repeatedly beaten people one on one in the post. If guarded by someone smaller than him he can punish them by taking advantage of mismatches in the post.
He can handle the ball functionally pulling off mainly straight line drives. He is a major threat in hand-off situations and often fakes the hand-off and then takes the ball to the rim. When driving to the rim he likes to go to a spin move where he protects the ball and also bumps the defender off balance during the spin.
Around the rim he shows off his touch with a variety of finishes. He often finishes with floaters and hooks around the rim in many different situations. The touch he possesses is impressive for his size and gives promise that his outside shooting will continue to improve.
Froling is a good passer for a big man. His actual passing ability is fine but his vision is what sets him apart as a passer. He doesn’t always hit his man on the chest, some passes are wild but overall he’s effective. The wild passing can mostly be blamed on passing out of double teams where he does a good job of recognising help defense and finding the open man. He makes up for some not so accurate passes with impressive vision and his ability to find the open teammate when an extra defender comes.
He is very effective as a playmaker from the post. At nearly 7-feet, Froling is often able to see over defences and make passes over the top. Due to his ability to score the ball in the post he often attracts additional defenders and from here he almost always makes the correct play to find the open man. His ability to also pass from the high post will be valuable going forward as he forces defenders to play up on him to deny passes. Opening up high-low opportunities will increase his value as he spaces the floor for his team.
Froling has the ability to handle the ball and is especially effective in grab and go situations. After securing rebounds he can push the pace and combining this with his passing ability, he provides another option on offense. Being able to grab rebounds and push the ball creates transition opportunities and mismatches. The success of teams in the NBA as a result of having big men that can push the ball highlights the usefulness of this skill.
Froling is able to move his feet pretty well defending pick and rolls which lets him be used in a number of different coverages. He can show and hedge and usually has the footspeed to get back to his man. Against explosive and quick guards he can get blown by but this is not a huge concern though as almost every big man gets blown by against explosive ball handlers.
He suffers from a lack of vertical pop and length in rim protection. Usually he rotates well and gets in a good position to deter shots. In consequence, he offers some resistance and can cause offensive players to shoot some more difficult shots or pass but against more athletic players he gives up more at the rim.
While he usually rotates well to get in to good positions at times he struggles in 2 on 1 situations, giving up too many layups by not strongly committing to the man with the ball. With more experience at a higher level this should improve and will be something to watch playing with and against higher levels of competition.
He has active hands in passing lanes and when guarding the ball. In my opinion, this is a very important skill to have for a big man if they aren’t the fastest and can’t keep up with everyone. While Froling can certainly move his feet with guards and has the ability to get deflections makes life harder for opposing guards. His ability to get hands on balls when trapping or hedging a screen is an indicator of the overall IQ that Froling possesses as it displays his anticipation and general feel for the game.
Sam Froling is a versatile big man with a growing skillset. He is a high IQ player with the ability to stretch the floor on offense with his playmaking and shooting. He isn’t an extremely physical, old school big but makes up for it with his mobility. The mobility combined with the skill makes him incredibly useful on defense while allowing him to be useful in different defensive schemes. His high IQ and general feel for the game help on the defensive end as he is a good team defender and often uses his verticality well. In order for Froling to play at a higher level he needs to continue to develop his game and improve his skills. The lack of athleticism may hold him back and this is something he needs to work on in order to play against NBA level athletes.
Froling is automatically eligible for the NBA Draft this year but there has not been a lot of buzz about him. As a prospect Froling could use some more time to develop and prove himself with a solid body of work. It looks like Froling will start for the Hawks this season which would be huge for his development. This would also be attractive for NBA teams as they could draft him in the second round and keep him in the NBL to develop. An NBA team should definitely look at taking a flyer on Froling and bet on him to continue to improve. It is not very common for a 20 year old to be automatically eligible for the draft and if a team secures him they could reap the rewards if they can develop him. Even if Froling isn’t drafted this year NBA teams will be watching his progress as he definitely has the potential to play in the NBA in the future.