The first time I heard the name Jimmer I didn't think it was completely insane like most ... however I did think it was foreign. BYU having a foreign basketball player isn't all that crazy. Rafael Araujo and Jonathan Tavernari were both from Brazil and current player Charles Abouo is from the Abidjan Ivory Coast. Also at the time I couldn't research this "Jimmer" because I was on my LDS mission. I returned home just in time.
I knew this kid was good but I didn't quite understand ... as did most people (besides Dave Rose and other BYU coaches). I was on my honeymoon in Moab, UT when Fredette made his first historic night scoring 49 points in Tuscon Arizona. He set a record in that building, and put some of his first "eye-brow raising" prints on BYU record boards tying the most points in a game and having the most made three pointers. I sent a text to my buddy when I returned from Moab asking if he knew what Jimmer had done. He told me that was old news.
The rest of that season started to pave the way for the Jimmer, the Glens Falls, NY native. He was a junior and in the running for the Mountain West Conference player of the year but had a few run ins with mononucleosis and had to sit out a few games due to that. Some say "what if" ... but I believe that was a blessing in disguise for him and BYU fans. Perhaps he would've had a better junior season. He ONLY averaged 22.1 points per game shooting 45% from the field, 90% from the free throw line and 45% from the three point line. Nothing THAT great. Nothing that sticks out on any stat sheets. However New Mexico's Darrington Hobson was the conference player of the year. What if Jimmer didn't get mono?
|Jimmer Fredette rejoices after|
leading BYU to it's first
NCAA Tournament Victory
During the off season he worked with NBA scouts while he had his name in for the NBA draft. That made some Cougar fans nervous, though a few weeks later after he couldn't get a guarantee he'd be a first round pick, he announced he would return for his senior season.
Fredette was a pre-season All-American and that's when everybody began to know his name and who he and BYU was.
The season began with a tournament in South Padre Island, TX and a trip home for Jimmer to Glens Falls. BYU played Vermont and he put on a show for his hometown fans. Jimmer had the opportunity to play close to home at Syracuse but Coach Jim Boeheim wouldn't offer him a scholarship but told him to walk-on instead. Jim later state that he "missed out big time" on that. The Cougars began the season 10-0 before losing to UCLA. The next ten game winning streak would be epic.
BYU played Arizona again. Jimmer torched them again scoring 33 points. A trip to Vegas that usually ends in a loss for BYU ended quite differently. Fredette fueled a heated "rivalry" with UNLV's Tre'Von Willis by hitting seven three pointers (one from the V at half court) with a total of 39 points and BYU was victorious. Another monkey off the back. 39 was his season high at the time ... but not for long.
|Jimmer Range. Yeah, he shoots (and makes) from there.|
That performance saw Jimmer on SportsCenter, Pardon The Interruption, and everywhere else. He was an icon. The face of NCAA Basketball of 2011. "Jimmer Range" was now common verbiage amongst EVERYBODY. This just headlined his way further into the season. He was everywhere ... yet still humble. Never pounded his chest once.
Fredette scored 43 points against San Diego State at home with a similar performance to that Utah game. He again helped his team beat the Aztecs in San Diego with 27 points and 7 assists. BYU had cracked the top 3 in both the AP and Coaches polls. The highest it's been since 1981.
Close to the end of the season things started to change a bit. BYU suffered a huge blow to their team when it lost Brandon Davies ... one of Fredette's biggest helpers due to an honor code violation. Less than two days later BYU had to play New Mexico ... the team who'd given the Cougars their second loss of the season, who BYU doesn't match up very well with, with a change in personnel. After this second loss to the Lobos the doubts were flooding in. Who was going to pull the Cougars out of this slump? You guessed it.
|Fredette was pleased with|
his teams victory over
UNM. He scored 52 points.
BYU earned a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament ... the highest it had ever been yet people were still skeptical due to the loss of Davies. Their bad history in the tournament didn't help the doubters either. BYU hadn't been out of the first weekend since 1981 when Danny Ainge led them to the Elite 8. The Cougars in 2011 struggled a bit against Wofford in their first round game (I refuse to refer to it as the 2nd round). Fredette scored his number ... 32.Then they had to play Gonzaga next. A team BYU would be playing frequently in the years to come in the WCC. The Bulldogs had some scary big guys. Dick Vitale picked the 11th seeded Zags to reach the Final Four. This wouldn't be an easy task. Or would it?
The entire BYU team was firing on all cylinders all game long. They were 14-28 from the three point range and Fredette scored 34 of his teams 89 points. He also had 6 assists. The Cougars made it look easy as they reached the Sweet 16 where they'd meet Florida yet again.
|Jimmer led his BYU team to the sweet 16 after a win over|
future conference foe Gonzaga.
Since that loss Jimmer has earned a spot as an AP All-American as the leading vote getter. He's also been announced as the recipient of the Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Award and rightfully so. More awards should be coming his way soon.
A little bittersweet this end is. I feel privileged to have witnessed this epic era of BYU Basketball. I hope to see him be successful in the NBA but that's a topic I must save for some other time. His jersey will hang in the rafters of the Marriott Center. His name will ne'er be forgotten. "Jimmer Range" will continue to be proper and everyday verbiage on the basketball court. What if Jimmer didn't got mono his junior season? What if this season never happened?
I sure do hope it's not another 30 years before we see a player like Ainge and Fredette at BYU, but if it is ... I can die a happy man having witnessed Jimmermania and being taught how to Jimmer. I shall never Fredetteabout it.