Dick Harmon: Jimmer Fredette's decision to stay was the right one

Published: Saturday, April 2 2011 11:09 p.m. MDT

BYU senior point guard Jimmer Fredette has won multiple national player of the year awards this season.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

It's a realm unforeseen 14 months ago.

When Dave Rose and Jimmer Fredette sat down and discussed the pros and cons of taking Fredette's name out of the NBA draft just over a year ago, neither had any idea what was in store.

Rose and Fredette had hoped BYU would win a Mountain West Conference championship. They hoped BYU would at least make the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. They hoped a team with chemistry and returning senior sidekick Jackson Emery would climb in the rankings, get a high seed, and the season would be fun and worth the return of Fredette.

The coach and player received feedback back in the spring of 2010 that Fredette would not be promised a first-round draft last June — that if he worked hard and BYU had success with him at the front — he could improve his NBA stock.

Neither could have foreseen the firestorm of publicity that erupted after Fredette made the decision to return to Provo for his senior campaign as the nation's leading collegiate scorer.

Fredette is now piling up national player of the year awards. Some experts project he may have worked his way into becoming a lottery pick, or at the least a mid-teen first-round draftee come June.

Fredette rewrote BYU and MWC scoring records, something he could not have done a year ago in a season in which he battled mononucleosis.

As for Rose, his program has never been more prominently displayed in the national spotlight. It's made recruiting easier and opened doors for him personally. That subtle decision last summer has catapulted BYU to a place it hasn't sniffed in 30 years.

In part, that is why many Rose watchers in Provo say he is expected to return to build on the momentum gained.

The decision.

Who could have predicted the domino it set forth the past four months? It is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime world that spontaneously hatched with basketball fans and Jimmer Fredette.

It even caught the two-time All-American by surprise.

Back on Jan. 11, after he scored 47 points in a win over Utah — including that half-court shot at the halftime buzzer, then calmly walking away as if it was routine as a towel swipe on his face — it all exploded.

It was superseded in a win over San Diego State. It climbed even higher after a second win over the Aztecs.

"It took on a life of its own," is how Fredette explained it this week in Houston, where he received the Oscar Robertson Award and the U.S. Basketball Writers of America honor as the national player of the year.

Boy, did it ever.

Even late Friday night, during SportsCenter's NBA wrapup show, producers of the cable sports giant used a graphic called "Jimmer Range" to describe shots from distance.

At the NCAA second-round site at the Pepsi Center several weeks ago, during the team's shoot-around, players for St. John's University were attempting long 3-pointers. When they made them, they walked away as if without a care.

They were doing the Jimmer thing.

At Thanksgiving Point Golf Course on Friday, when Brian Seeley, Dan Checketts or Randy Dodson made a long putt or chipped in from off the green, they'd nonchalantly walk away and say they were doing the "Jimmer walk."

A sign near the exit of BYU's testing center on campus reads: "Hope you Jimmered that test."

Similar stories trickle in from high school, college and NBA games from around the country.

A life of its own.

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