The greatest sporting event on earth starts next week — the NCAA Basketball Tournament — and, well, while we're on the subject, anybody know what happened to Jimmer Fredette?
He's about, oh, 6-foot-2, with 200 muscled pounds and a face that looks like he stepped out of Mayberry or a Norman Rockwell painting.
Has anyone filed a missing persons report?
Is he on a milk carton?
Maybe he's on a Carnival Cruise ship and that explains it.
You remember Fredette, don't you? Everyone does. He was a national sensation, the boyish, charismatic kid from BYU who never met a shot he didn't like. He started shooting as soon as he pulled into the parking lot. He was so good and so popular that his name became a verb — when he dropped 40 points on a team, the team got Jimmered.
He led the nation in scoring — 31 points per game. He led BYU to the Sweet 16. He was everyone's All-American, everyone's Player of the Year, everyone's favorite player, everyone's cover boy. If you tuned in Dan Patrick or Jim Rome or the local TV gab show, chances are they were all talking about Jimmer, and so were people at the water cooler.
He was bigger than basketball. So big that he became a pop hero. He was Taylor Swift, with a basketball.
The president of the United States weighed in, calling him "unbelievable. Best scorer obviously in the country."
The Internet was flooded with highlight videos and Jimmer songs to the extent that one BYU student made the mistake of chastising people for worshipping Jimmer. Wrong move. She got Jimmered by the wrath of Jimmer Nation. His story was everywhere — developing his game in the LDS Church gym with his aspiring rapper/big brother TJ, playing against prison teams, working with a personal trainer as a 5-year-old, etc.
How big of a deal was Jimmer? BYU arranged to play a game in Jimmer's way-out-of-the-way hometown of Glen Falls, N.Y.
But you probably already know all this as we stroll down memory lane. Fredette cemented his legend in the post-season conference tournament and the NCAA tournament — 52 points against New Mexico, 32 points against Wofford, 34 points against Gonzaga.
You name it, Jimmer won it, including every award named after old guys — Wooden Award, Adolph Rupp Trophy, Oscar Robertson Trophy, Naismith Award.
This all happened some time during the Vietnam War — oh, wait, it was only two years ago! It just seems like ancient history. No one has seen Jimmer since then. How could a guy like that be missing? He should be easier to find than Craig Sager.
Well, according to reliable sources, Jimmer has been spotted playing guard for the Sacramento Kings. Actually, playing might be the wrong word. Sitting would be more accurate. Jimmer, according to some reports, plays only 14 minutes a game — down from 18 in his rookie season. Rumor has it that he averages 7 points a game. Seven points? He used to score that before the first commercial break.
He was the 10th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, and it looked like Sacramento would carry on with the Jimmermania. His jersey number sold out immediately; ticket sales took off.
And that was about it.
It pretty much fizzled. Jimmer started seven games as rookie. He has zero starts this season and didn't play at all in nine games.
During a four-game stretch in December Jimmer scored 16, 15, 22 and 10 points, respectively — 63 points in 79 minutes of play. Four games later, he never left the bench.
At the very least, this guy should be Danny Ainge II. Who can figure what college player's game will translate to the NBA game. The NBA isn't as patient as Major League Baseball or the National Football League. He could pretty much be written off after another year, if things don't change. He could join the ranks of Adam Morrison and JJ. Redick as college stars whose games didn't carry over to the NBA.
Maybe Jimmer could ask his NBA coach about what that's like. Keith Smart famously hit a jump shot to win the NCAA championship for Indiana in 1987. His NBA career consisted of two games, and then he went off to play for the San Miguel Beermen in the Phillippines.
Jimmer fans hope for a better fate for Jimmer.
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