PROVO — Even though he has exhausted his collegiate eligibility and was the No. 10 pick overall in last June's National Basketball League draft, former BYU superstar Jimmer Fredette has spent a lot of time with this year's Cougar team.
Because of the NBA lockout, Fredette practiced occasionally with BYU players in recent weeks and he has been able to sit behind the team bench for a few games, including the Cougars' 94-66 blowout of Weber State Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
Now that the lockout is over, Fredette is moving on. He left Provo on Thursday to embark on his NBA career with the Sacramento Kings.
"He was in the locker room (Wednesday night) after the game, saying goodbye to all of the guys. He went around and shook their hands," said coach Dave Rose. "We wish him well. I'm excited for him. I know he's excited. He had his family here tonight. They're ready to send him off and see how he does."
Rose added that his team has benefited from Fredette's presence.
"He's just a great teammate and guys like him. He's not on our team, but everybody feels like Jimmer's a friend and you can go talk to him about things and he's really free with his time," he said. "I'm happy that he was around. The days that we actually got a chance to have him practice I think were really good for our team."
Rose said Fredette has practiced "probably once a week" with his team. "We'd love to have him here every day, but the (NCAA) rules stated that those NBA guys that were sitting out could go back to their college campuses and work out, but they could only practice with the team on occasion."
ADDING CARLINO: Point guard Matt Carlino, a UCLA transfer, becomes eligible in time for BYU's game against No. 6 Baylor (7-0) on Dec. 17.
"We'll have to go through another adjustment period and see how everybody deals with that," Rose said. "Hopefully it brings real depth to our team. Hopefully Matt can come in and immediately play well. We'll see."
Rose said he likes the production from point guards Anson Winder and Craig Cusick. "I'm really pleased with the development of our point guard position the last four weeks, with Anson and Craig, and their ability to run our offense, play on attack and not turn the ball over."
The Cougars had 20 assists and only seven turnovers against Weber State.
"That's terrific," Rose said. "We can win games doing that."
OFF THE BENCH: Junior forward Stephen Rogers has settled into his role as BYU's sixth man.
Rogers scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, in last week's victory over Oregon and followed that up with a 15-point performance in 18 minutes against Weber State. During one stretch in the second half, Rogers scored 10 straight points for the Cougars.
Rose said it's not yet clear if Rogers will maintain that role as his team prepares to welcome Carlino to the lineup.
What Rose likes is his team's depth. Against Weber State, BYU had six players score in double figures, including Rogers and Nate Austin. Rogers, Charles Abouo, Brock Zylstra, and Austin each scored 15 points.
"The competition on our team is starting to become a real factor in the minutes being played," Rose said. "I think competition is the most healthy thing for improvement. Our practices are hard and competitive. When you get players that come in and do well with the minutes that they have, it raises the level of everybody. We have some great guys coming off the bench in Stephen Rogers and Craig Cusick and Nate Austin. Those three keep pushing the starters. Everybody wants to play. That's the name of the game. Hopefully we can continue to compete so we can get better."
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