On April 5, one week after UCLA hired Steve Alford as its next basketball coach, shooting guard Allerik Freeman reaffirmed he intended to honor the commitment he made to Ben Howland eight months earlier.
"I've been a Bruin," he told Rivals.com. "And I am a Bruin."
Something has changed since Freeman's initial meeting with Alford because it doesn't appear as though he'll be a Bruin after all. The four-star shooting guard will seek a release from his letter of intent and reopen his recruitment, Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon told multiple outlets Tuesday night.
The timing of Freeman's decision is strange because almost a month has gone by since the hiring of Alford. Typically it doesn't take this long for an incoming recruit to decide he's uncomfortable with the new coach or for the new coach to determine that a player his predecessor liked doesn't fit with the program's new direction.
One possible explanation is that once Alford had time to evaluate his roster thoroughly, he realized Freeman was unlikely to earn much immediate playing time. Even with the early departure of Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA has an abundance of options at shooting guard next season, between sophomore Jordan Adams, junior Norman Powell and incoming freshmen Zach Lavine and Bryce Alford.
Where UCLA does have ample playing time available is at point guard as a result of the graduation of Larry Drew II and the lack of an obvious replacement on the current roster. Freeman had expressed interest in converting to that position, but those who saw the 6-4, 210-pound guard in high school suggest he lacks the ball handling and decision-making ability to make the transition.
If the experiment of playing Freeman at point guard was destined to fail, then UCLA likely won't miss him all that much. Alford has plenty of other options at the wing, though he is now down to nine scholarship players on the roster.
What will be interesting is to see which programs show interest in Freeman this late in the recruiting process. Freeman picked UCLA in the fall over Duke, Kansas, Villanova and Ohio State, but it's unclear how many of those programs will be willing or able to make room for him on their roster this late in the recruiting calendar.