While Smart has limited Fredette's time in favor of others outplaying the rookie, he also understands what the young point guard is going through, maybe more than anyone.
He hears calls for Fredette to play everywhere he goes, from behind the Kings bench to filling up his car at a gas station. He tells every fan — and Fredette — the same thing: be patient.
Smart should know. The former Indiana guard hit "The Shot" that won the Hoosiers the 1987 NCAA title over Syracuse and headed to the NBA with almost impossible expectations.
"You're making a transition of trying to get everybody else involved while still playing your own game," Smart said. "When you haven't done that, the NBA is a tough place to figure that out."
Given Fredette's rising stardom a year ago, his slip in Sacramento has been swift and stunning.
BYU coach Dave Rose remembers the dozens of cameras and reporters who swarmed the Cougars when they landed late at night for a game last season against Vermont in Fredette's hometown of Glens Falls, N.Y., where hundreds of fans surrounded the plane on the tarmac in what became the unofficial start of "Jimmermania." Another time in San Diego, so many fans crowded a hotel lobby that the team had to sneak in through a back door.
Hundreds also packed Fredette's arrival at the Sacramento airport last summer after the Kings acquired him in a draft-day trade with Milwaukee as the 10th overall pick. A few thousand showed for a pep rally soon after and Mayor Kevin Johnson even released a statement lauding Fredette's selection.
"I've never coached or played with a player that got as much attention as he did," said Rose, who believes Fredette's waning fanfare outside Utah might be a major benefit. "It's a little bit over the top. If you spend an afternoon with him or a day with him (in Provo), it's not normal. Everywhere he goes and everywhere he attempts to go, there's some interruption. The less interruption he has, the more he can focus on his game."
About 25 NBA general managers called Rose before last year's draft wondering about Fredette's athleticism, defense and whether he could go from a shoot-first point man to running an NBA offense that gets everyone involved. All those questions remain.
"Jimmer and I have talked a lot about it. It's going to be hard for it to happen overnight and a quick situation, but he's determined and he has a great work ethic," Rose said.
Setbacks are not exactly new for Fredette.
He struggled early in his BYU career with the style and pace of play. Once his skills started to surface at the end of his freshman season, Rose tailored the offense around the guard, now 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, to allow him to create off the dribble.
That's a luxury few NBA players earn, and Rose is the first to admit "it's more on Jimmer" to adjust now. Whether he can might ultimately determine his NBA future.
"Just go out and be yourself regardless," Fredette said. "Don't try to go out and do anything differently. Just try to play the same exact way that got you into the NBA. I think that's what people expect from you. I think I can be a great point guard in this league if I continue to work, and that's all I can do right now."
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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