Charlotte’s Allerik Freeman took a circular route back to his hometown for a Hornets pre-draft workout Saturday.
He left Olympic High in 2012 to play his senior year of high school basketball at Findlay Prep in Nevada. Then, three seasons of college ball at Baylor before transferring to N.C. State. His last season of college eligibility was his best, averaging 16.1 points for the Wolfpack and shooting 38.5 percent on 3-pointers.
Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard, doesn’t hold back in how crucial transferring to N.C. State was to his chances of playing pro ball.
“I thought it was a career-saving move, from Baylor to N.C. State,” said Freeman, one of six draft candidates at Spectrum Center on Saturday.
“I’ve heard it from multiple teams. My agent has had conversations (where Freeman was described) as a whole new player. I credit coach (Kevin) Keatts and the coaching staff.”
Freeman played extensively as a sophomore at Baylor, averaging 11.3 points. His playing time fell off significantly the next season, from 30 minutes per game in 2015-16 to 23 minutes in 2016-17.
Because he had graduated with a season of eligibility remaining, Freeman was immediately eligible to play at N.C. State last season. His minutes shot back up (34 per game), enough to get some attention from NBA teams.
He worked out in New York, Los Angeles and Sacramento before Saturday’s audition with the Hornets.
“It if it wasn’t for that (transfer), I probably wouldn’t have the workouts that I’ve had,” said Freeman. “I wouldn’t be getting my foot in the door. And I’m appreciative.”
He’s also realistic. Freeman said if he’s drafted June 21, it would likely be late in the 60-pick process. Otherwise, he’ll be looking for an invitation to a summer-league roster as an undrafted free agent.
Those aren’t great odds, but the NBA has become more development oriented the past few years, with closer affiliations between the 30 teams and G-League franchises.
Freeman is encouraged by the story of former Duke player Quinn Cook, who he has worked out with for several summers. Cook worked his way through minor-league basketball to finish this season with the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
“In my situation, I’m the type of guy who will really have to show it in summer league. Whether it’s the G-League, summer league or a two-way (contract), whatever situation I’m in, I’m going to have to produce,” Freeman said.
“Every situation – every path – is different for different people. You can’t always compare yourself to the next guy. You’ve got to keep working. At the end, if you put in the work and conduct yourself the right way, you’ll get your chance.”