Jimmer Fredette impresses during workout for Utah Jazz brass with Kemba Walker
SALT LAKE CITY — Jimmermania was in full-blown madness mode Wednesday morning at the Zions Bank Basketball Center.
Utah Jazz brass and VIPs, a select number of season-ticket holders, BYU and Weber State personnel and a whopping 44 media members were among the swarming crowd at the Utah Jazz's practice facility for this larger-than-usual pre-draft workout, which was highlighted by Jimmer Fredette's participation.
"It was definitely a little more hyped up than some of the other ones, maybe," Fredette said while circled by reporters, recorders and cameras after his 30-minute session.
There was no maybe about the hype for this private workout, which media were not allowed to watch.
But featuring BYU's Fredette, the NCAA player of the year, going up against Connecticut's Kemba Walker, the leader of the NCAA Tournament champions, this was as hyped as you'll ever see any pre-draft workout.
"I applaud Jimmer for that," said Walker after admitting this was the largest media contingency he'd seen in his five pre-draft workouts.
The intensity apparently matched the hullabaloo and hubbub of The Jimmer's appearance and his anticipated showdown against Walker.
"They both competed," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
And both promising point guards spoke highly of each other.
Walker, who pulled out of a potential matchup with Fredette in Sacramento last week, left impressed after playing against BYU's star for the first time.
"Jimmer's a great player," Walker said. "I absolutely think he could play the point guard position on the next level, and today he definitely showed that. Him scoring is just a plus. He made some pretty impressive passes as well. I think he'll be great."
Walker credited Fredette for shooting the lights out, which wasn't surprising. But the UConn standout, speculated to be a top 10 pick, felt like both players held their own.
"It was a great experience for both of us," said Walker, a 6-foot-1 point guard who averaged 23.5 points and led UConn to an unprecedented five consecutive wins in as many days during the brutal Big East Tournament.
"I thought it went very well. We had a great workout in here, a lot of great guys," Fredette said. "Obviously one of the best guards in the country with Kemba — a matchup that's been anticipated by everybody for a long time.
"But," Fredette added, "I thought I did very, very well. I shot the ball well and went out there and played my type of basketball, so I thought it was great."
The Jazz, who own the third and 12th picks in next week's draft, have done copious amounts of homework on all of these prospects, and they know Fredette has a knack for scoring.
But it wasn't only Fredette's range that impressed Corbin, who had the BYU bomber and the five other attendees show the Jazz their stuff on pick-and-rolls, defensive drills, scrimmages and overall athleticism.
"He's quicker than I thought he was," the Jazz coach said of Jimmer. "His competitive nature — this cat really competes and he hates to lose. He's a good kid. He really likes to play and that shows in everything he does on the floor, along with his scoring ability.
"Everybody knows him for putting up numbers on the board," Corbin added, "but I think he's a more complete player than a lot of people give him credit for."
Yes, even on defense.
"He did better than he did on the films," Corbin laughed when asked about Fredette's D, which has been deemed to be the 22-year-old's weakness.
This was Fredette's final pre-draft tryout. He also worked out for New York, Indiana, Sacramento and Phoenix. Now he'll return home to Glen Falls, N.Y., for a few days before heading to New Jersey for the June 23 draft.
He's holding out hope that the Jazz will pick him up with one of their two selections.
"Yeah, it would be a great place," said Fredette, a longtime fan of the Jazz and Hall-of-Famer John Stockton. "I just think it would be a great fit for me basketball-wise. I'd fit into the system. They need a guy who can stretch the floor, get into the lane, get other guys involved and that plays right into my strengths."
Attracting large crowds.
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