Jimmer Fredette heard he was too small to play at the next level. He heard he was too slow to get his shot off and not athletic enough to make a mark against faster and bigger players.
And of course, he couldn’t play defense.
Very few believed Fredette could have this successful of a career at the collegiate level.
Four years later, the 6-foot-1 guard was crowned the nation’s best college basketball player.
The wild ride led to multiple awards and TV appearances, but meant little once Fredette began prepping for the NBA Draft.
Old criticisms began to surface.
“I’ve been through that my whole entire life,” Fredette said. “So that’s not anything that’s new for me. I don’t hold grudges against anyone who said I couldn’t make it. I just use it personally as fuel to hopefully get those people to believe I can do it.”
Defense was the biggest question mark. Few doubt Fredette’s shooting range or his basketball IQ, but many question his ability to stop speedy point guards like New Orleans’ Chris Paul or Chicago’s Derek Rose.
“That’s the flaw that I got knocked with at a young age and it’s been with me ever since,” Fredette said. “It’s my job, especially in these workouts, to show these teams that are interested in me that I can play defense and that I’m very capable of doing that and that I can be a good on-ball and team defender within in their system. I think I’m doing a good job of that so far.”
He’s criss-crossed the country, going from the NBA Combine in Chicago to team workouts in New York, Indiana, Sacramento, Phoenix, and of course, Utah.
No matter what city he touched down in, there was a constant buzz.
Jimmer-mania went nationwide.
It seems like Fredette’s hard work is paying off as owners like the Kings’ Maloof brothers and Pacers’ president Larry Bird fawned over his style of play.
Fredette has gone from a projected late first-round pick to possibly a top 10 pick. Sacramento picks at No. 7.
NBA.com’s David Aldridge and ESPN’s Chad Ford have Fredette going 15th to the Pacers. Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick has Fredette going 13th to the Suns. The Utah Jazz have the No. 3 pick and the No. 12 pick.
“His ability to stretch defenses (and make) what I could call momentum threes,” ESPN college analyst Fran Fraschilla said in an ESPN teleconference. “A guy that you put in the middle of the third quarter, you’re down two and when he leaves, you’re up seven because he’s made three threes.”
Before deciding to go back for his senior season at BYU last spring, Fredette temporarily entered the NBA Draft. The intention was to get a feel for the process and get some NBA feedback about his game. He didn’t hire an agent and therefore maintained his eligibility status.
He worked out for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Knicks, the New Jersey Nets and the Boston Celtics. Despite getting strong feedback, none of the teams could or would give Fredette the first-round guarantee he was looking for so he returned to college.
“I think that’s the biggest thing,” Fredette said. “That piece of mind. Being able to get prepared before you go in. I kind of knew what they were all about and how the intensity was.”