Jimmer Fredette made a splash on the basketball world when he was draining three-point shots for the BYU Cougars in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Clever signs began appearing at games, as word was spreading of the prowess of this charismatic star who showed more enthusiasm for the game than any player in recent memory.
"Who needs 7 footers when you can have 27 footers?" and "Physics says NO. Jimmer says YES” were just a couple of the imaginative signs that would find their way into arenas where Fredette was launching shots from distances most players would fear to shoot from, or else receive a harsh glare from their head coach.
For Fredette, the shots were rarely criticized because they often sank through the hoop like they were uncontested layups. He was a welcomed phenomenon for an otherwise tepid college basketball season. Fredette would go on to lead the NCAA in scoring in his senior season, and won every major player award, including the Wooden and Naismith Awards.
The sharpshooting guard’s transition to the NBA generated a great deal of interest, as many were eager to learn how the 6’2 combo guard would be able to handle more challenging competition. Fredette joined the Sacramento Kings as a first-round draft pick in June 2011, and has since become a key scorer off the bench.
However, adding Fredette has not made a major impact on Sacramento’s fortunes. The Kings, who have not made the playoffs since 2006 and may be on the move to Seattle, failed to make the playoffs in 2012, and are languishing in the Pacific Division, as injuries and a lack of big-man depth has proven to be too problematic to overcome.
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The 23-year-old from Glens Falls, N.Y. is averaging a respectable 7.8 points per game, and is shooting nearly 42 percent, which is rather high considering much of his shots are from the perimeter.
International Business Times caught up with Fredette following a road game against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 5. Fredette was able to chat despite having a cough and being the first player to leave the locker room for the team bus.
IBT: Can you explain your offseason in terms of what you worked on to improve, and how has it translated in the season so far?
JF: I worked a lot on my middle game -- trying to get to the paint, make sure that I have that shot down. It's a lethal weapon in the NBA. A lot of guards have it, especially a lot of small guards. That's what I have been working a lot on in the offseason to try to get better.
IBT: The amount of playing time you received this season has been rather erratic. How have you dealt with not knowing when you’re coming off the bench, and do you feel comfortable in the offense?
JF: You just got to stay ready. That's the best thing that you can do. Whenever you get your name called, you just got to be ready to play, and do the best you can when you get out there.
IBT: Is it tough playing on a team loaded with so many talented guards?
JF: It's not necessarily tough. I mean, it's competitive in practice. You just got to buy your time, and once you get the opportunity show them you can play and hopefully earn more minutes.
IBT: The Kings’ overall record is well below .500. What’s the mood of the team, and how confident do you feel that the Kings can improve?
JF: I think we can improve. We won a couple games here on the road -- two out of four. We're playing decent basketball lately, so we just got to take of the business at home. We have a couple games at home now, so we have to take care of business. Just move towards the right track, and hopefully be there towards the All-Star break.
IBT: Can you provide an example of a major learning experience since entering the NBA?
JF: Nothing too specific. You just got to take it game-by-game. You'll have bad nights, and you'll have good nights. That's what happens in the NBA, but you got to come back the next night and be ready.
IBT: Technically, you grew up closer to Boston than New York, but how does it feel to be back in your home state, and play in Brooklyn for the first time?
JF: It was fun. It's obviously a new arena. It’s a lot of fun being able to come back here and play, and see some familiar faces and everything. It was a good time, but it wasn't a great outcome. (The Kings lost to Brooklyn, 113-93)
IBT: Have you had a chance to explore New York much? What do you think of this town?
JF: I love New York City. It's a great town. I'd been here a lot when I was younger. There are obviously great places to eat. There's lots of stuff to do, and the city is so energetic that it's a lot of fun.
IBT: What’s your favorite food, and how often do you eat it?
JF: My favorite food is pizza, and I eat it quite often.
IBT: Have you had a chance to have any in New York on this trip?
JF: We just barely got here today. Obviously, Ray's Pizza is a big one around here-- definitely great pizza around here.
IBT: Would you consider being in the three-point shooting contest?
JF: I will if I get the opportunity to. If I get a chance, that would be great.
IBT: What has been the best memory you’ve had as a member of the Kings?
JF: There have been some great memories. But just being around with the guys -- a lot of good moments with the road trips. Having fun, and joking around -- those are the best moments.
IBT: Who is your closest friend on the team?
JF: I don't really have a close, close friend. I kind of hang out with everybody -- whoever is around. I get along with everybody, so that's a good thing.
IBT: What’s your favorite TV show, and what’s your favorite movie?
JF: Favorite movie is "Shawshank Redemption." Favorite TV show is probably "Seinfeld."
IBT: Have you seen “Seinfeld” enough to quote it?
JF: Yeah, I can quote it. I've seen most of the episodes for sure. Obviously, they're funny people. Great cast, and a great concept.
IBT: Who was your favorite player growing up?
JF: I used to like John Stockton a lot. He was just a guy I wanted to try to be like when I was younger. He was a guy that can shoot the ball, and can pass it, obviously, unbelievably. He played great defense. He had a great, successful career, a Hall of Famer, so he was a lot of fun to watch.
IBT: Were you a Jazz fan?
JF: I was a Jazz fan growing up, and also a Knicks fan for being home, and being pretty close. I liked both of them.
IBT: If you had a chance to have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
JF: (laughs) I don't know; obviously, my wife. That would be the No. 1 answer, for sure. It would be fun to have dinner with someone like Will Ferrell or someone like that who would make you laugh all night. That would be fun.