Dick Harmon: The 'Jimmer Fredette Show' is about to begin in Denver
DENVER — Is it a little presumptuous to think the aura of Jimmer Fredette has taken over the Pepsi Center the past two days?
No. Because it has.
Jimmermania is a full go here. The media wade in it, fans anticipate it, other competitors peek at it and the network folks at CBS count on it. It is a prime-time entity that has its own life and plot. It is a reality show on steroids.
Now, pressure is mounting on Jimmer. He's the Huckleberry Finn All-American everyone expects to put on a show and to do his thing today as No. 3 seed BYU takes on No. 14 Wofford.
Al and Kay Fredette will be on hand to witness whether or not their son will live up to his billing. It's a position they've been in many times over his young life. And generally, the kid has delivered.
He delivered last week when BYU faced the only team to sweep the Cougars. He put up a school-record 52 points in a win. He helped deliver a co-MWC Championship. He's kept his NCAA scoring title a live despite mounting defensive pressure. When everybody said he looked tired the past few weeks, he brought down the house in Las Vegas.
Fredette helped deliver Dave Rose a Top-10 basketball team in 2011, a year after he decided to return to school for the fun and thrill of a final campaign. He is hip deep in it all today.
Al Fredette rarely gives his son game advice. Al did tell Jimmer to pump fake and drive on SDSU last Saturday. Jimmer's mother, Kay does give Jimmer advice and it's always the same, a general declaration: "Do what you do, Jimmer. Just do what you do."
The blood voice that really gets through to Jimmer, however, is his hero and his inspiration, his older brother TJ, a man who has dedicated his life to pushing forward his younger brother.
"It's TJ who can really talk to Jimmer and gets him motivated to the point where he can go out there with real confidence," said Al. "He gets him in the right state of mind — he knows what to say."
The Fredette family is living a dream that exploded around mid-January. It magically crept into the "unbelievable" and "unreal" folder this past fall when "Sports Illustrated" featured their son on the cover, one of several players displayed in a DC Comics graphic novel super hero motif.
The pressure started right then. It has never subsided only ebbed with the tide of massive media coverage.
"It's been amazing, it really has," said Al. "We looked at each other after they did the "Sports Illustrated" cover and asked each other would we ever have thought both our sons would be featured in "Sports Illustrated"? Did you ever imagine? We are thankful and grateful that it did happen and it's been great for Jimmer and TJ and for our family."
And Kay, who started calling her son Jimmer instead of James or Jim, never imagined what that nickname would become. Not in her wildest dreams.
"His mom gave him the name," said Al. "Just the level it has gone to, it is just unbelievable. You go out there and see your son's name being used every way possible. You see your son's name being used on ESPN, on SportsCenter, on (the) Jim Rome (Show), even a lot of the NBA athletes are using it. It's a pretty amazing thing that it would be used to that level. But we're happy that it did."
He's the white kid with unlimited range — an Allen Iverson-like dribbler and finisher. He's a humble kid with a huge heart, an interview target who tends to say the right things with the right tone and attitude. He's a basketball rock star without tattoos, which is an alien in the modern world.
Somebody asked Kay if there was something Jimmer did or excelled at that nobody knew about.
She said, "He juggles things and he's good."
Of course, it had to be something circus related.
Jimmer returned to BYU with the promise to the NBA, if it couldn't guarantee him a first round pick last spring, he'd return to school, work hard and make it so they had to.
That mission has been accomplished. He is on the board.
The "Jimmer Show" will end in coming days. It could be today, maybe Saturday.
It will end when BYU stops hitting 3-point shots — a game Jimmer and his role players on the team cool to about 30 percent shooting like the last clash with San Diego State. BYU is a team that lives and dies by the three.
Sitting here in the Pepsi Center, I've run into plenty of reporters and broadcasters who are anxious to see the "Jimmer Show" and report on it. They're asking about the kid, doing research about his game, his future.
This is what Fredette returned for — this season — this kind of experience.
Said his father, "He made that decision because he loves the school, he loves his teammates and coaches, his friends and classmates and he loves his fans.
"He loves playing basketball," said Al. " It is a real passion for him. He gets a lot of energy from the fans, it is a big part of it for him."
And so it is here the next chapter turns for one Jimmer Fredette.
Notebooks, microphones and cameras are ready.
Somebody, roll out the ball.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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