Al Freeman gives NC State an instant-impact player next season


Two months ago, I reasoned why Al Freeman projects as a dangerous offensive player for the Wolfpack next season. The upshot of the post was Freeman’s efficient long-range shooting, and pick-and-roll prowess, would help seriously boost NC State’s offense in 2017-18.

Freeman’s decision to transfer to Raleigh, however, fell before that subsequent decisions of both Devon Daniels and C.J. Bryce. Daniels and Bryce — two wing scorers — were big-time gets for Kevin Keatts, but could it be that the excitement of those two players has pushed Freeman to the back burner?

Maybe not — but it’s worth a quick rewind and reminder of how effective Freeman could be in Raleigh next season.


Al Freeman is more than just a shooter

I think most would agree that Al Freeman’s primary role next season will be as a shooter for NC State; the Wolfpack don’t have a ton of other great options from distance.

However, Freeman has a well-rounded game; he can influence the win-loss column with more than three-balls. According to Sports-Reference, Freeman was one of only five players in the Big 12 last season to shoot above 39 percent on three-pointers, shoot above 80 percent on free throws, post a usage rate above 20 percent and average at least one assist per game.

Freeman carries a lot of experience, too. The grad transfer is one of just nine players in the history of Baylor’s program to play at least 100 games and make more than 100 three-pointers.


Does something have to give?

In his three seasons as head coach at UNC Wilmington, Kevin Keatts’ offenses twice scored better than 109 points per 100 possessions, per KenPom. The Seahawks crescendoed in 2016-17: UNCW ranked No. 19 nationally in offensive efficiency — 118 points per 100 possessions.

When Freeman was at Baylor (2014-17), the Bears ranked inside the top 25 in terms of offensive efficiency all three years. According to KenPom, during both his sophomore and junior seasons, the 6-foot-3 guard posted individual offensive ratings north of 110. That’s rather impressive.

It would be presumptuous to assume there won’t be a learning curve for Keatts and a young team next season. Obviously, a lot of factors go into these equations. But there are some avenues for optimism in Raleigh prior to the 2018-19 season.

If you want to sell the notion that NC State will compete right away under Kevin Keatts, then Al Freeman must be a large part of the equation. Freeman isn’t a savior, but he will help make NC State functional on offense.