Arrival of Jimmer Fredette in Sacramento creates a buzz

By Jason Jones

McClatchy Newspapers

Published: Saturday, June 25 2011 1:33 a.m. MDT

Jimmer Fredette from BYU looks on after he was selected No. 10 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.

Mike Stobe, Getty Images

Enlarge photo»

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — At one point, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas glanced at each other during what had turned into a tabloid media setting. And without saying a word, their expressions said it all — the scene was crazy.

The Kings' 2011 draftees had become a sideshow to the main event, the Jimmer Fredette Show.

When Honeycutt and Thomas joined Fredette, the Kings' first-round pick, at Sacramento International Airport on Friday, they saw up close how excited fans are to see Fredette in person.

But that might not be a bad thing for the Kings' two second-round selections.

The frenzy surrounding Fredette could keep Honeycutt and Thomas out of the spotlight and allow them to do what rookies are expected to do — learn and improve.

Sure, some fans rushed to meet Honeycutt and Thomas. But that could easily get lost in the frantic reaction to Fredette's addition to the team.

Between posing for photos and signing autographs, Honeycutt and Thomas received some attention, even with TV cameras tracking Fredette's every move.

Honeycutt and Thomas were impressed, if not overwhelmed, by the fan support, with a few hundred showing up to welcome the Kings' newest players.

"Yeah, I didn't think it would be like this," Thomas said. "It's unbelievable. ... You can already tell the fans are second to none. This is unbelievable."

Honeycutt was in New York for the NBA draft Thursday, where there wasn't much opportunity for such hoopla.

While Fredette was shuffled to various media commitments, Honeycutt only saw him in passing.

"We really didn't get to hang out," Honeycutt said.

There certainly wasn't much time for hanging out once fans spotted Fredette and Honeycutt coming down the escalator at the airport.

Thomas, who had arrived earlier in the day, returned to the airport for the reception.

And while Honeycutt and Thomas might get lost in a crowd of fans hoping for a Fredette sighting, the Kings see them as more than faces in the crowd.

The Kings are excited about the versatility of Honeycutt, who played two seasons at UCLA. Though he might not be expected to play immediately, the Kings are intrigued by his passing ability, athleticism and defense.

The Kings considered Honeycutt a first-round talent who they were able to land five picks into the second round with the 35th overall selection.

"He's somebody I think can play for a long time in this league because he figures to be an excellent defender and he's got some offensive ability as well," Kings coach Paul Westphal said.

Thomas, though just 5-foot-9, fits what the Kings have sought to add in recent seasons tough competitors to help reshape what had become a team viewed as soft.

Thomas was known for playing with an edge in his three seasons at Washington. And sliding to the final pick in the draft (60th) should only add to that edge.

"Isaiah Thomas is just the consummate competitor," said Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie. "He's on the small side but had a great career at Washington and is a real competitor and really skilled."

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