Jimmer Fredette has a busy summer ahead of him if he hopes to recapture the magic that got him into the NBA.
After a senior year at Brigham Young University in which he scored 28.9 points per game, Fredette won essentially every player of the year honor: the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, the Adolph Rupp Trophy, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy. Following an NCAA tournament loss to the Florida Gators in which he scored 32 points, Fredette was drafted 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the Sacramento Kings.
Once drafted, Fredette was immediately met with numerous struggles he hadn't faced in college. The NBA was locked out, which meant that the rookie had no training camp to familiarize himself with his teammates and coach's system, and no summer league to showcase his talents.
Despite the lack of time to adjust himself to the NBA, fans still expected Fredette to become a superstar. His jersey flew off the shelves and the Kings, had to have two people working full-time, to fulfill the glut of orders according to owner Joe Maloof.
Sacramento got off to a rocky start, firing head coach Paul Westphal seven games into the season. With no camp, no summer league, and now no coach, it was a difficult time for a rookie with the weight of a successful college career on his shoulders. With a few bright spots, including a 20-point effort against Memphis on January 21, Fredette finished the season averaging 7.6 points, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 turnovers per game in 61 games.
The Kings finished second-to-last in the Western Conference with a 22-44 record. Fellow rookie guard Isaiah Thomas, the last pick in the draft, took over the starting role down the stretch, eventually making the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Fredette didn't make the rookie team and some are already labeling him as a bust.
Now the onus is on Fredette to fight through adversity and become a key contributor to his team. He has been a star since high school, and it will be interesting to see how he responds after a season in which he sat out a game for non-injury related reasons for the first time in his career.
Fredette wrote in a recent e-mail interview to poststar.com, I need to work on pick and roll situations both offensively and defensively, and making sure to keep my dribble alive. Fredette also has to improve on his shooting - he shot 39 percent from the field -- if he hopes to carve out a role in the NBA. His best asset has always been his shooting, but Fredette is used to having the ball in his hands and will have to learn to move without the ball and find open looks against professional defenses.
After a poor first season, the expectations on the former All-American have been curbed significantly. ESPN's John Hollinger wrote that, He may never be a starter because of his defensive limitations...but he could be one of the league's most effective bench scorers.
Fredette will have his chance to go back to work in his first ever Summer League and training camp. Former Kings guard Bobby Jackson, who was with the team during their impressive playoff runs in the early 2000's, will be coaching and his expertise could add to the young player's developing game.
Fans will get their first view of Fredette's progress when the Summer League kicks off in Las Vegas on July 12th.