Can Jimmer Fredette be an explosive scorer in the NBA?
RICK TELANDER email@example.com June 22, 2011 11:34PM
BYU’s Jimmer Fredette | Julie Jacobson~AP
Updated: June 23, 2011 2:13AM
You talk to Jimmer Fredette, and you mention that there’s a new flash verb in the basketball world: ‘‘jimmer.’’
Definition? Verb, trans., to clown from a great distance. b. to give a sudden facial sans dunking.
The noun form of Jimmer laughs.
‘‘Yeah,’’ he says. ‘‘I know. It’s kind of funny.’’
He doesn’t mean that in an arrogant way, for Fredette, 22, the recent NCAA scoring champ (28.9 points per game), 2011 Rupp Award winner, Oscar Robertson Trophy winner, AP player of the year and Naismith player of the year, is nothing if not humble.
The kid is Mormon, doesn’t swear, drink, smoke, chew or hang with folks who do. And, as he says, ‘‘I would like to play for the Jazz; that would be fun.’’
Salt Lake City, of course, is the capital of the Mormon religion and just a crossover drive up the Wasatch Front from Provo, home of Brigham Young University, where Fredette launched the Jimmer Show
We’ll bring back just one memory: Against 20-0, then-fourth-ranked San Diego State on Jan. 26, Fredette went wild, dropping 43 points on the Aztecs in a 71-58 BYU upset win, hitting 14 of 24 field goals, 10 of 11 free throws and nailing the last 15 points of the first half.
The dude can score. Anywhere. Anyhow.
Coaches say so. Players say so. In a recent scrimmage, UConn All-American and NCAA champ Kemba Walker couldn’t stop him.
You can see it for yourself if you check out the endless jimmering on YouTube.
But does any of this mean anything at the next level, the NBA level, where Fredette might be the biggest wild card of a very uncertain 2011 draft.
A point guard who didn’t rebound much and played defense from the other side of the gym, Fredette could be a smaller Adam Morrison, a newer Steve Alford, a lesser J.J. Redick, a staler Damon Bailey.
Or, who knows? He could be a budding, scarier Kirk Hinrich, a better-shooting Jason Williams, a sturdier Luke Ridnour, a snappier, shorter, game-running Kyle Korver. Why, somebody has to be the new Steve Nash someday, you know. And Nash is a player Fredette says he emulates and likes to compare his game to.
You notice one thing about all those possibilities? They’re white. And that is what, underneath it all, the general managers of the league are pondering. ‘‘White’’ is code for slow, low-rising, unathletic, uncertain in a league of majestic athletes.
But it seems every player in the coming draft has flaws.
Injured one-and-done Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, the possible first pick — has anybody even seen him play?
Likely top-five point guard Brandon Knight from Kentucky is said to have a dubious left hand.
Walker, a point guard, is 6-1 and might not have long-range stuff.
The 6-2 Fredette has a jump shot that he’s comfortable taking from two or three feet beyond the NBA three-point line. And BYU coaches told him not to play much defense because he was too valuable to get fouls.
And if it’s college success you’re looking for, remember that BYU lost leading rebounder Brandon Davies just before the NCAA tournament for engaging in premarital sex.
Yep, at BYU that’s a point-blank dismissal factor, while at some major hoops schools, if the deed were consensual and relaxing, it might be rewarded with a coach’s pat on the back.
With Davies on the team, some feel the Cougars would’ve won the tournament rather than finishing at the Sweet 16 level.
‘‘We definitely knew it was wrong,’’ Fredette says of his pal’s mistake. ‘‘You sign the honor code when you come in.’’
Fredette has had tryouts with five teams — the Kings, Knicks, Pacers, Jazz and Suns.
He says he wouldn’t mind playing for the Knicks, either, because he’s from New York. Indeed, when I ask him what he’s doing now, he replies, ‘‘Just hanging out with my family here in Glen Falls.’’
He’s a hard one to compute. He says the fact people think he can’t play defense is only motivation for him, the same motivation that came from having no major college other than BYU offer him a scholarship. Next best offer? Siena, a small Catholic school in Loudonville, N.Y., just down the road from home.
Nor is Fredette a non-athlete. At the NBA predraft camp in May, the 195-pounder did more bench presses than any other point guard, beat Knight and Walker in the lane agility drill and made 82 percent of his three-pointers. He has an exhausting drill in which he must dunk three times in a row with only a one-step approach. Over and over.
He’s slotted anywhere from the early first round to the very bottom.
‘‘He has no interest in the money,’’ his agent, Chris Emens, says. ‘‘All he cares about is going to a place where he fits.’’
‘‘In high school, I used to shoot from far, far out,’’ Fredette says. ‘‘I didn’t bring that out, really, until this year. I shot a long one up, and it went in, and then I kept doing it the rest of the season. It spread the floor and really helped our offense.’’
Can he dribble, can he pass, can he defend, can he do it?
All good questions.
Would you want to be the team that blew it?