Jimmer Fredette won the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Naismith Award, the Adolph Rupp Trophy, and the Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches player-of-the-year honors. Three years later, the Sacramento Kings eagerly negotiate a buyout with the former BYU star to release him from his rookie contract. How did Jimmermania fizzle out so quickly in Sacramento?
“Jimmer Fredette has never shown that he can do all that much in the NBA,” a veteran NBA scout told Breitbart Sports. “He’s not playing against college kids. He’s playing against grown men, professionals. Everyone he plays against has great athleticism.” Fredette, he explains, lacks the physical attributes required to play at an elite level in the NBA. “Where’s the strength? Where’s the foot quickness? Where’s the length? He’s way down in the equation physically in the NBA.”
Breitbart Sports reached out to the scout to grasp why everybody’s 2011 college player of the year has become persona non grata in Sacramento and unappealing trade bait elsewhere. Like Tim Tebow, the charismatic Jimmer Fredette polarizes fans. His detractors view him in the tradition of Steve Alford, Bobby Hurley, and other college greats never meant for the professional game. His proponents blame his struggles on his situation, playing under three coaches in three seasons and experiencing a massive turnover in teammates. Like Tebow, Fredette faces a career crossroads just three years removed from being the near-unanimous pick as the best collegiate player in the country.
Fredette, who averages 5.9 points and 1.5 assists per game this season, has seen his minutes and scoring decrease this year from last, and last year from his rookie season. His shooting, conversely, has improved from the field, charity stripe, and, especially, behind the three-point line each year. Though the point guard doesn’t own enough attempts to qualify as a statistical leader, his 49.3 percent shooting this season from behind the arc ranks above the NBA’s top three-point shooter Anthony Morrow of New Orleans.
Given the promise displayed by Fredette as an outside shooter, his dominance in college, and the excitement Jimmermania brought to Sacramento, news of his pending release has his fanatical followers puzzled. Yesterday, Fredette–a role player clocking in just 11.3 minutes per game this season–placed second in trending searches on Google. “The casual fan doesn’t understand the difference between college and the NBA,” the league source reasoned. “How many college teams are there in Division 1? Three hundred and fifty or more?”
But what an amazing college player Jimmer Fredette was. Kevin Durant tweeted during Fredette’s BYU heyday, “Jimmer Fredette is the greatest scorer in the world!” Even the president, when filling out his 2011 NCAA bracket, remarked of the point guard, “Unbelievable. Best scorer obviously in the country. Great talent.”
But the veteran NBA scout outlined the differences between college, where the best few thousand players between ages eighteen and twenty-two toil, and the pros, where the best few hundred players around the world from age nineteen to forty-one earn millions to display their hardwood talents. He likened levels of basketball to a pyramid. As it narrows, the pyramid squeezes out players who excelled at lower levels. A skilled player who lacks exceptional athleticism can succeed in college but finds his liabilities exposed in the NBA. The scout bluntly labels Fredette “physically inferior,” a handicap that manifests itself in poor defense and inability to shed defenders. “He can’t guard people. He can’t free himself. He can’t get to the rim.”
“Did you ever see LeBron James with his shirt off?” he asks. “How is that fair?” The respected scout likens the NBA to “a race of supermen.” Nevertheless, he believes the pro who appears more Jimmy Olsen than Clark Kent will land on NBA roster. A long-distance sharpshooter remains a hot commodity in the league, after all. “If Jimmer got in another system, he might be able to do some good,” the talent evaluator contends. “I think Jimmer is a terrific open shooter. He has an offensive skill-set. He has the desire.”
Observers expect the Kings to waive Fredette by week’s end and further expect the tenth pick in the 2011 draft to clear waivers. The reboot, if not the release, gives Fredette and his fans hope that he can finally fulfill the promise he showed just a few years ago. One report points to the Memphis Grizzlies as a team eager to sign the popular point guard. Others suggest the New York Knicks, whose point guard Ray Felton faces felony firearms charges, as a natural destination for the Glens Falls, New York native.
Whoever comes knocking, Fredette might be wise to answer. “There’s no one breaking down the doors for Jimmer Fredette,” the league source concludes. “The NBA is a capitalist system. If you’ve got it, you’re going to get paid.”