Jackson Emery shares insight on Jimmer Fredette, hopes to join him in NBA
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — If Jackson Emery gets his way, Jimmer Fredette will be accompanied by his trusty sidekick wherever the NCAA player of the year gets drafted later this month.
That's because when it comes to the NBA, Emery said the two former BYU teammates are "a two-for-one deal, no matter what."
General managers might want to take note of that.
The Lone Peak High product, who realistically admits he'll likely play professionally in Europe, added with a smile that he'll have to wait and see how his vocalized dream joke pans out.
One dream scenario did play out for the ex-Cougar on Tuesday, though. It even gave Emery rare basketball bragging rights over The Jimmer.
Emery got to work out for the Utah Jazz — and he did it before his wildly popular pal.
He laughed when it was suggested that might give him an edge over Fredette in regards to being drafted by the Jazz.
"That's what I told Jimmer," he said.
Emery initially was under the impression Fredette was going to attend this pre-draft workout, which also included John Stockton's point guard son, Michael Stockton of Westminster, Kansas' Brady Morningstar and Virginia's Mustapha Farrakhan (the grandson of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan).
"I thought I was going to get my shot at him," Emery quipped. "I don't know if he bailed out or not."
Fredette was in Indiana showing the Pacers his skills on Tuesday, but he will work out in Utah for the Jazz in the next couple of weeks (though the organization isn't saying when).
Just as he accepted his role as a secondary scorer behind Fredette at BYU, Emery has gracefully embraced his new role as a spokesman on all things Jimmer as the two embark on their professional paths.
Having spent most of the past week going one-on-one against Fredette, Emery believes the Jazz — and other NBA teams considering taking a chance on the BYU superstar — will be pleasantly surprised by continued progress The Jimmer is making on his game.
That even includes on defense, one of Fredette's oft-cited weaknesses.
"Jimmer's working hard. I haven't seen him work this hard in a long time," said Emery, who added that Fredette was excited about his stock rising after a favorable showing in the Chicago pre-draft camp.
"People are doubting him. People are saying he can't do this or he can't do that — and he knows that."
Not only that, but Fredette is fueled by the critiques and cynicism.
"I think," Emery added, "Jimmer's going to open a lot of eyes."
And not just on the offensive end in "Jimmer range" — as Emery called the long-range NBA 3-point territory.
Fredette wasn't near the collegiate defender as his lower-profile teammate, but Emery has seen first-hand progression in his buddy.
"He (went) through his times where he would just settle for things and just kind of go through the motions," Emery admitted about Fredette's defense in college. "I don't know if he was conserving his energy or afraid to get in foul trouble.
"But," he added, "the past couple of weeks working out with him, he was a lot more aggressive. He was taking advice more on how to do things defensively. He was trying a lot harder. That's one thing about Jimmer — once there's doubters, he always seems to live up to the doubt."
Emery was in awe of working out in the Jazz's training facility with banners reminding of Karl Malone's MVP trophies and Finals trips, etc., and he admitted it would be something else if Jimmer ended up playing for the local NBA team.
"I think it would be great for the state of Utah and for the Utah Jazz," Emery said. "I think Jimmer's a great player. He's a kid that's always going to work hard. You're never going to question his work ethic."
Before oodles of Jimmer questions were tossed his way, Emery seized the opportunity to leave a similar impression about himself with the Jazz. The athletic and versatile, albeit undersized, 6-foot-3 shooting guard knows getting drafted is unlikely — in part because NBA teams want to see him improve his ballhandling skills and prove his consistency from 3-point land.
But the 2005 Utah Mr. Basketball still holds out hope that he'll play in the NBA some day.
"There's no summer league this summer, so for guys like me I need to take every opportunity that I can and just do my best," he said. "Obviously, if it doesn't happen this year, at least my name's out there and guys are familiar with me and that's what's really important."
Emery's agent has spoken with teams in Germany, and he expects to have a European contract nailed down in June or July, barring an NBA miracle. He's also picked ex-USU star Jaycee Carroll's brain on playing overseas.
While he waits for something to materialize, Emery is hopeful another team or three in the Association will invite him to work out prior to the June 23 draft.
Showing how good-natured he is about his current situation, Emery even turned a related question into a Jimmer joke. He chuckled when asked if he'd worked out for any other NBA teams prior to showing his wares to the Jazz.
"I've worked out with Jimmer," he said. "I don't know if you consider that an NBA workout."
Judging the magnitude of Jimmermania, some might consider it even bigger.
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