On the day he fulfills a lifelong dream, the consensus national player of the year in college basketball is still playing the role of underdog.
Despite his status as the country's top scorer and one of the most exciting names in the game, Jimmer Fredette remains an NBA enigma in the eyes of many league observers.
Jimmer has his converted believers, mind you — not the least of whom are the coaches and front office personnel for whom Fredette worked out over the previous weeks. Fredette says even with a stellar four-year resume and boatloads of BYU records, he needed to show interested teams that his high-octane college game could translate to the professional ranks.
Fredette is well aware that the most prevalent doubts center on his defensive play, and Jimmer feels he answered those questions in a positive fashion, at least for the coaches and executives who brought him in for workouts. "That's what they wanted to see," Fredette said.
"All of them said 'you're actually more athletic than I thought you were ... you're a lot quicker,' " Fredette said. "That was my job, to go in there and show them that I'm kind of deceptive when I'm playing. You may not see 'flashy' ... but I get by guys all the time; for some reason that goes unnoticed. It's all about going in there showing you can do it and playing against anybody that they put in front of you, and I thought I did a good job of that in the workouts."
Fredette's pre-draft workout schedule was minimal and selective — by strategic design, according to his agent Chris Emens, who acknowledges that his client "is somewhat polarizing," in many people's opinions.
"We picked out five teams (Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks) that we thought were the absolute perfect fits for Jimmer, where it's a 'no-lose situation,' " Emens says. "Jimmer's looking for a chance to come in and contribute in the near future, and our goal is for Jimmer to have the opportunity to compete for a starting point guard job within the first two or three years of his career."
And yes, Fredette is a point guard, a fact of which many national observers remain either unconvinced or unaware. Scattered reports persist, indicating that Fredette either played or will play shooting guard — a notion Jimmer quickly discards.
"I never really played shooting guard in college or in high school ... so I don't know what people see, but I've always handled the ball; I've played point guard. In certain situations I can play off the ball, but (NBA teams) want me to be a point guard."
So, which NBA team will call Fredette's name tonight?
Will it be the Kings, who own the seventh pick?
"(Kings guard) Tyreke Evans is a rising star in this league ... that would be good for me," says Fredette.
Will Jimmer go to the Jazz, holders of the third and 12th picks? "I think it would be great. It would a good spot, good fit; (Jazz fans) would love it — I think that's the consensus around there."
What about the Suns, at 13?
"(The workout) went very well; they were very impressed ... being mentored by Steve Nash would be unbelievable."
Or will it be the Pacers, at 15?
"I played really well there — I thought it was my most positive workout ... (GM) Larry Bird said a lot of positive things about me."
Then there are the Knicks — Jimmer's home state team. "Mike D'Antoni is a great coach and it would be a fun team to play for ... it would be a thrill."
Jimmer's final word?
"I think all five of them fit really well."
Fredette's agent would be mildly surprised if a wild card team were to emerge and select the Glens Falls, N.Y., native on Thursday night. "If he's not going there (to work out), I think it greatly diminishes the chances that he'll be picked by a team other than the ones we selected."
Emens adds that while it's his expectation that Jimmer will be going to one of the aforementioned five, "having been through these things a few times, you never know."
Whichever team picks Fredette, it will be getting a player Emens calls "captivating and popular;" a player who he says will "significantly impact the bottom line, revenue and profitability of a franchise."
For his part, Fredette realizes his reputation will precede him to the next level, and he relishes the opportunity to prove something to both the believers and detractors. "I know that I'll have a target on my back I'm sure, going in, just with all the speculation. Those (NBA) guys are competitive guys and they want to show that they're the best ... and the same here."
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