SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Jimmer Fredette has yet to play in his first NBA game for the Sacramento Kings, but the former BYU star has already reached a celebrity status where he can rub elbows with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.
The 22-year-old Fredette is one of 84 celebrities from sports and entertainment who will tee it up Friday in the 22nd annual American Century Championship near Lake Tahoe. The 2011 Naismith and John R. Wooden Award recipient as college basketball's top player, Fredette is only the third celebrity the NBC-sponsored event has invited to the 54-hole tournament prior to launching their professional career. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger are the others.
"I feel honored to be here," said Fredette, who was in Los Angeles on Tuesday to attend today's ESPYs. "It's pretty amazing to be able to play with some of the best athletes to ever play."
Fredette, who was previously introduced to Barkley, is hoping to meet Jordan sometime before Sunday's final round at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
"It would be unbelievable to meet Michael Jordan, and to play golf with him would be something that would really be fun," Fredette said. "He revolutionized the game in his day.
"I'm going in there to have some fun and meet some of these guys. It would be an honor to get to talk to them and pick their brains to learn the ins and outs of the NBA."
Fredette certainly doesn't have any illusions of winning the tournament, which tenders a $125,000 first prize.
"I'll just be trying to get under 100," Fredette said. "I've worked on my game some, and hopefully I'm getting a little better."
Until NBA owners and players resolve how to divide league revenue, some players are exploring their playing options outside the country. Former Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams recently announced that he will play in Turkey if the NBA lockout isn't resolved.
Fredette, who averaged 28.9 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game during his senior season at BYU, said he is content to continue preparing for his rookie season with the Kings.
"I haven't thought about that," Fredette said. "I'm trying to get ready to play in the NBA because it's a whole different style than the college game."
Whether Fredette starts alongside Tyreke Evans in the Kings' backcourt or plays a lesser role, the 10th pick in last month's NBA draft is excited about the possibilities in Sacramento.
"I think we are going to be an exciting team, and hopefully I can come in and fit in right away," Fredette said.
Despite his hectic appearance schedule this week Fredette hasn't lost focus on the game that has lifted him to celebrity status.
"Ultimately, I'm a basketball player. I haven't gotten away from that," Fredette said. "I have a great love for the game. I make sure I'm always practicing and working as hard as I can."
American Century Championship
Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
Friday, 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, 8:30 a.m.