Al Freeman arrived at Baylor in 2013 after signing with the Bears following a coaching change at UCLA, the school he originally inked with. Freeman, who was rated the No. 61 prospect in the 2013 class, had high expectations early on, as he was the top recruit in a class that also included current standouts Jonathan Motley and Ishmail Wainright.
However, a wrist injury forced him to miss the first eight weeks of the season and led to the staff electing to redshirt him during his true freshman campaign.
"It was tough," said Freeman. "But, I was a student-athlete and had other things to take care of too."
Freeman added that he's always taken pride in his school work. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Freeman spent his senior season at Findlay Prep in Nevada. That experience helped prepare him for the rigors of college athletics... balancing basketball and academics.
"As a student-athlete, class comes with it," he stated. "Going to school, working for my degree, it was what I came to college for."
That first year he was named to the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll and the following two seasons was named second-team Academic All-Big 12 while carrying a 3.0+ average in the classroom.
He was also solid on the court.
Freeman followed his redshirt year by playing three seasons for the Bears. He played in 99 games and made 57 starts during his Baylor career, totaling 848 points, 255 rebounds, 128 assists and 50 steals. He averaged 8.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game, while shooting 37.3% from 3-point range. His 81.4% career free throw percentage is 10th-best in program history, and the 85.3% free throw percentage he posted as a sophomore in 2015-16 is Baylor’s sixth-best single-season total.
His best season was as a sophomore, as Freeman averaged a career-high 11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. His minutes dipped as a junior to 23.9 after averaging 30 minutes a night the previous season. However, he was expected to play a huge role for Baylor during his senior year, but Freeman had a change of plans.
Because of the hard work in the classroom, he is on pace to graduate with a degree in Health/Kinesiology this spring, and doing so allows Freeman to transfer to another program without sitting out a full season. He's eligible to play right away and Freeman says the decision to transfer was related to style of play more than anything else.
"I had a pretty solid year," Freeman said. "They had me off the ball and spotting up. Really, I didn't feel like I fit in the system at Baylor. I'm looking to play more up-and-down... in a fast-paced offense. That wasn't really the case at Baylor."
Freeman quickly heard from NC State once he received his release.
"Coach Keatts reached out to me after I got my release," he said. "I didn't know much about him, but he's a real cool guy. He's down-to-earth and laid-back... sounds like a really cool coach.
"We've been talking a lot about how he plays, and I like their style of play. He pointed to his style of play a lot. They play fast with a lot of perimeter shooting and ball screens. Coming out of high school, one of my biggest strengths was scoring off ball screens and that's something I want to get back to."
He was originally recruited by NC State out of high school so he already is familiar with the Wolfpack program.
"I grew up in North Carolina so I'm real familiar with NC State, Wake, Duke, Carolina," Freeman said. "It's the ACC. I know how competitive it is and how big basketball is there. I'm excited to take the visit."
Freeman has tentative plans to take three trips right now. He will be taking his first official visit to NC State this weekend followed by a trip to Pittsburgh, April 14-16. If it's not a dead period, he'll then take a mid-week trip to Santa Clara or set that trip for the following weekend.
As of now, he plans on taking all three visits before making a decision.
"I don't have any favorites right now," he said. "I'm just going to go through the process. The biggest factors for me will be playing style and finding a situation that I trust."
Freeman will have one year of eligibility remaining at the school of his choice.