PROVO His name is Jimmer not Jim or Jimmy. According to the birth certificate, his real name is James, but BYU freshman Jimmer Fredette has never been called James.
"My mom would always get mad if anyone called me James," he explained. "We have some people named James and Jim in the family, and she wanted something a little different. That was the nickname she wanted for me and it stuck. It's a unique first name. I like it."
By now, Jimmer Fredette, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound sharp-shooting guard from Glens Falls, N.Y., has made his name known around the Mountain West Conference.
Not that Fredette entered his first season in Provo as a secret. While starring at Glens Falls High School, he was rated among the top 75 shooting guards in the country by ESPN.com. He ranks No. 6 on New York's all-time scoring list with 2,404 points (he averaged 28.8 points per game as a senior) and was named first-team all-state in New York.
Just before the season began in October, the MWC's media awarded him with preseason freshman of the year honors.
In recent weeks, Fredette has been living up to those expectations, knocking down a flurry of huge 3-pointers for the Cougars during their current six-game winning streak. He drilled one from behind the arc that gave BYU a bit of a cushion in a 55-52 win at Utah.
During the Cougars' 59-56 victory on Jan. 23 against San Diego State, with BYU mired in a shooting slump and coming off a humiliating 70-41 loss at UNLV, coach Dave Rose turned to Fredette. Before you could say Jiminy Cricket, the freshman drilled back-to-back, second-half 3-pointers that helped lift the Cougars to victory.
"Those were two of the biggest shots I've hit this season," Fredette said.
Rose said he has given Fredette more opportunities to shine recently. "We've expanded his role a little bit and allowed him to create a little more off the dribble because he feels more comfortable and more confident in our system. He's made some big plays for us the last two or three weeks. He's been consistent for us."
"He's been playing real well with the time that he's getting," said guard Lee Cummard. "He's making the most of it. He's got a great feel for the game for a freshman. He can really shoot it. He's going to be a good player. He's smart when it comes to basketball. I like the improvement he makes day by day."
Fredette started strong this season, as he connected on three 3-pointers against Long Beach State in the season-opener, and a few games later he went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc against Hartford on his way to a career-high 19 points.
Then, for a stretch from the Louisville game on Nov. 23 through the Loyola Marymount contest on Dec. 3, Fredette hit only 7-of-33 (21 percent) of his attempts from 3-point range.
But when BYU traveled to the East Coast to take on Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Fredette seemed right at home. Playing in front of friends who made the trip to North Carolina from New York, Fredette scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
"It turned things around," he said of his performance. "When you have a good game against a very good team, an ACC team, it's going to give you confidence. It definitely gave me confidence going into the Mountain West Conference."
"In that Wake Forest game, he came off the bench and was really aggressive," Rose said. "He was able to use that to let him know what the team needed from him. He responded well to that."
In MWC play, Fredette has been among the conference leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (16-of-41, 39 percent) and 3-pointers made (1.6 per game). He's averaged 8.3 points in BYU's last six road games.
"I think I've been making the transition (to college basketball) well. I just hope to keep getting better," Fredette said. "I have more confidence now, I'm shooting the ball more and I'm being more aggressive."
The Cougars discovered Fredette when he started attending basketball camps at BYU while he was in high school. Rose and his staff watched him play in AAU tournaments and in high school games.
Fredette was also offered scholarships by schools in the East, including UMass, Siena, William & Mary, Fordham and Marshall.
But Fredette chose BYU. "This was the best situation for me," he said.
It's not easy being so far from home, but his sister lives in the area and his girlfriend also attends BYU. His parents visit Provo as often as they can. It's been an adjustment coming from a high school where he was the only member of the LDS Church to attending BYU, where almost all of the students are LDS and share his faith.
Like all freshmen, Fredette has had to make other adjustments, such as getting used to competing against bigger, stronger and faster athletes than he encountered in high school.
And it's been a challenge keeping up with academic demands, especially when the team takes road trips. But his experience at BYU so far is everything he hoped it would be."I wanted to come here and play some minutes," Fredette said. "(BYU coaches) said I would make an impact in the games and I've been doing that. That's all you can ask for as a freshman."