Baylor redshirt junior guard Allerik Freeman visited NC State two weeks ago, and over the weekend he took an official visit to Pittsburgh. He left impressed with the Panthers.
"The visit went really well," said Freeman. "I really liked coach Stallings as a person, and the staff was really cool. The visit was cool, and I liked the city of Pittsburgh. After the visit, I definitely saw myself fitting in at both schools."
Freeman was planning to visit Santa Clara and was hearing from other programs, but ultimately, he had narrowed his focus to NC State and Pittsburgh. Today he verbally committed to the Wolfpack.
"It was a real hard decision," he said. "I felt like the two schools, NC State and Pitt, were very close, and I could play for both of them. I just prayed about it and went with my gut. I felt NC State was the best decision for me. Again, it was really close, but NC State was the best option."
After finalizing his decision, Freeman informed both coaching staffs of his choice. Obviously, Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts was thrilled to hear the news.
"He was really excited," said Freeman, laughing. "He probably started dancing. He was yelling on the phone... telling me how happy he was. Honestly, it was a really cool moment."
Ultimately, what led to Freeman picking NC State?
"I just love the playing style," he said. "All the pick-and-rolls... an uptempo system with three-point shooting. It really fits my game. I've had conversations with coach Keatts, and he talked about how I'd have the ball in my hands and play how I'm capable of playing, really in a different way than how I was used at Baylor."
Freeman is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and he spent three years at Olympic High School before attending Findlay Prep (NV) for his senior season. However, his in-state roots didn't make the Wolfpack the perceived favorite.
"When I told my family, I think they were definitely excited but also surprised," he stated. "I don't think they thought I was leaning toward NC State. This decision was based on business, and it was about what I could do on the court. It wasn't about getting back closer to home or playing in front of my family.
"They knew that though and kind of understood it. I really haven't played in front of them since when I was at Olympic. I played at Prep, committed to UCLA, and have been here in Texas at Baylor. Even for AAU I played for out-of-state programs. I knew they would support me wherever I played because they always have, but I know they are excited I'll be close to home."
Freeman 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 chose to move on for his final season.
"They had me off the ball and spotting up," Freeman said. "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 fills a huge need for NC State, as the Wolfpack has just three returning scholarship guards from last season. Freeman has one year of eligibility remaining and can play right away as he will receive his degree in Health/Kinesiology this spring.
Although NC State is coming off a down season and has a new coaching staff, Freeman believes the talent is in place for the Wolfpack to be extremely competitive.
"I feel like we can be really good," he said. "We can surprise a lot of people, but we have to take it one day at a time. Every year I've been in college I've made the tournament. I've been a part of two Sweet Sixteen teams, but I've also experienced losing early as a favorite.
"It's about taking care of what you can control, one day at a time. If you do that, you can achieve positive results."