CHICAGO — For four years, Jimmermania has been building up in Utah. Has it possibly not reached a crescendo in the state?
The Jazz have two of the top dozen picks in the June 23 NBA Draft. A source said Thursday that while Jimmer Fredette isn't being looked at for Utah's No. 3 selection, he definitely will be given consideration if available at No. 12.
Consider the interest mutual.
"Yeah, that would be something that would be very cool," the star guard from BYU said Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine about the possibility of being drafted by the Jazz. "Obviously, I have a big following out there. I feel comfortable there. I have a lot of family and friends in the area. It's a good system, a lot of pick rolls.
"A guy like (former Utah guard) Deron Williams flourished in that type of system. I think I could do the same."
Fredette, a native of Glens Falls, N.Y., said he would be "very happy" if drafted by the Jazz. He said he would have no problem with being selected No. 12, saying it's "not how high I get drafted, it's all about the system and where I can flourish the most."
Jazz officials, who didn't want to discuss Fredette in Chicago, were to have an interview with him Thursday night at the combine. Among those who were scheduled to meet with Fredette include general manager Kevin O'Connor, director of player personnel Walt Perrin, head coach Tyrone Corbin and assistants Scott Layden and Jeff Hornacek.
Fredette anticipated sitting down with nine NBA teams on Thursday in Chicago. But most important for Fredette is what he'll be doing while standing up at the combine, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
There's not a lot of doubters when it comes to the offensive ability of the 6-foot-2 Fredette, who led the nation in scoring as a senior with a 28.9-point average and was the consensus National Player of the Year. But he's determined to prove to scouts what he can do on the other side of the ball.
"I thought I impressed them," Fredette said about Thursday's drills. "Defensively, I thought I did pretty well on the one-on-one stuff. I think that's what they want to see mostly out of me. They know I can shoot the ball. But they want to see the defensive end and see the lateral quickness.
"There's definitely a perception (about him being a weak defender). When you get a stereotype, it's hard to get rid of that stereotype until you go out and they see it for themselves. … I'm looking forward to showing them I'm a complete player, a guy who can not just score the basketball."
Scouts will make a determination on whether Fredette can "D" up. But there's no doubt he can fill it up.
Jimmermania has continued to spread far from the BYU campus, with the Cougars coming off a season in which they were ranked as high as No. 3 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Even Miami star LeBron James has become impressed with Fredette.
"First of all, he's an unbelievable college player," James said. "(Unlimited) range and ability. I don't think he gets enough credit for putting the ball on the ground and being a playmaker off the bounce.
"Everybody talks about his long-range shooting, but he does a lot with creating his own shots. This is a league of creating your own shot, and he can do that. But sometimes it all depends on what team you fall on to. … So we will see. But he has the ability. We all see how he has the game for this league."
Fredette, who was flattered to hear about James' praise, said the Heat, which actually doesn't pick until the first selection of the second round, was one of three teams to interview him Thursday morning. The others were Milwaukee, selecting No. 10, and Portland, picking No. 21
Fredette is projected to be drafted anywhere from late in the lottery to late in the first round. There's as much anticipation as to where Fredette might go as there is for the some of the very high picks.
"He's the 'The Jimmer,' with quotations around it," said Duke guard Kyrie Irving, likely to be selected No. 1 by Cleveland. "He's a great player. I've never played against him, but I'm a fan of his, honestly. He's just a great shooter, a great player all-around. Just the way he led BYU this season was incredible."
After BYU's season ended March 25 with a Sweet 16 overtime loss to Florida, Fredette traveled around the country for two weeks, receiving his various awards for National Player of the Year. He then began workouts in preparation for the draft, enlisting the help of former Arizona star and NBA guard Miles Simon and strength and conditioning coach Lee Taft, Fredette's uncle.
"My expectations are to be able to get a right fit, wherever it might be," Fredette said of his draft prospects. "I just want to get picked in the right situation."
As far as Fredette is concerned, the Jazz would be the right situation.
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