The 2010-2011 college basketball season might be remembered as the year of the point guard.
Perhaps the most exciting of these point guards was Jimmer Fredette, who emerged as the most talked about, having basically carried his team on his shoulders through to the Sweet 16.
The Brigham Young star averaged 28.9 points per game, and had eye-popping performances.
Over the past season, Fredette had four games where he scored 42 points or more. He also shot 45.2 percent from the field -- great numbers for an outside shooter.
Perhaps the best thing about Fredette was that he made a noticeable improvement over last season. He raised his scoring average from 21.6 points per games, and played more minutes. Fatigue didn't set in for the senior.
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There are many reasons for Fredette's success. He has the ability to create his own shot, he's a colorful-pass threat, and he has a great knack to find spots on the court to set up his outside shot. In the open court, Fredette is not afraid to take it to the hoop, and can also penetrate in a half-court set.
This scouting report is not lost on NBA executives. Fredette is considered a lock for the first round, and has a very good chance of being a lottery pick.
In fact, the Utah Jazz have two lottery picks, and many believe they will use one on Fredette.
Despite his performances this past season, Fredette will not be a consensus first pick. Many college players who dominate at the college level tend to struggle in the NBA. Fredette might be one of those type of players, and NBA executives know it.
Draft experts waver where he will be selected. The Web site NBADraft.net had earlier projected Fredette would be picked tenth in the upcoming draft, which was a steady improvement from where he was months prior.
Now, with some players saying that they will stay in college, Fredette has moved to the seventh spot.
There are clear reasons for Fredette not being rated higher by NBA scouts.
First, there is the problem of what position he would play. For his size, Fredette will be forced to handle more point-guard duties than he had at BYU. His job will be to create more for teammates than to score. At 6'2, he would struggle to play the shooting guard position, because shooting outside shots on college basketball players is much easier than shooting over the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobli, Brandon Roy, and Joe Johnson.
Second, his point-guard skills are certainly there, but his athleticism to play the position is probably not where it needs to be. Fredette can push the ball up the court, but today's NBA players are so fast that he would have trouble creating his own shot against someone like Russell Westbrook.
Third, Fredette does a fine job staying in front of college basketball players, but in order for him to see significant playing time, he needs to substantially improve his defense. There are NBA players like Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, and Chris Paul who combine superior crossover skills with the ability to use their athleticism to find passing lanes. Fredette isn't at the point where he's capable of defending those types of players.
Fourth, even though he has done well against tough competition, it's still hard for many scouts to disregard the fact that he's played mainly against rather weak competition over the course of his college career. That's certainly not Fredette's fault, and scouts know that, but it does weaken his stock when compared to players who face tougher competition.
The good news for Fredette is that he is probably well aware of all of this.
In the next few months, Fredette will tailor his game around the style of the NBA. He has shown a great deal of improvement over the past four years, and will continue to improve on the intangibles of his game.
Bolstering his athleticism will be the most important thing he does.
There is certainly a place for Fredette in the NBA, but don't expect him to dominate anywhere near the way he had at BYU. If his work habits decline, expect him to be out of the league very quickly.
Expect Fredette to fall short of superstar status in the pros, but still be an excellent spot-up shooter, and a solid contributor for several years.