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Scott Howard-Cooper

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Jimmer Fredette's abilities as a playmaker are in doubt despite BYU's thrilling NCAA run.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Scouts maintain perspective as Jimmer-mania reaches its apex


Posted Mar 22 2011 8:54AM

The catchy name, the T-shirt slogans, the music, the games against prison inmates, the prominent program, now the Sweet 16 and -- get this -- the senior status. Playing four years? What is that? Jimmer Fredette: Package from NCAA Marketing Heaven.

Now about the rest of his career....

The captivating Fredette back story and scoring pyrotechnics may have turned him into a national sensation in the college game as BYU climbed to No. 3 in the nation in February. But around NBA front offices, it's hard to locate a team that rates him as more than a role player with a chance for a career as a solid contributor. Some don't even allow for that much star treatment heading into the Draft, saying his chance of success in the pros will depend on the rest of the roster.

Fredette is projected for the middle of the first round -- maybe a little lower if the physical goes particularly bad at the Chicago pre-draft workouts -- and maybe a little higher if enough top prospects stay in school or overseas. He could touch the end of the lottery of a particularly weak Draft or he could last until the 20s, and nobody could be surprised at either outcome.

"You just have to know what you're getting," one scout said. "He has limited athleticism. He's not the greatest ball handler. He's just an OK passer. But as far as flat out shooting, he's one of the best in the country. And if you put him around good players, he'll be even better."

Fredette is, in other words, viewed as a complementary player in the NBA, not a budding star who will push to replicate a BYU career that has reached the Round of 16 against Florida in the Southeast Region in New Orleans.

He is a 6-foot-2 point guard with a shooting guard game, and that's a listed 6-foot-2. If he goes to the Chicago camp and the actual number turns out to be more like 6-foot-1 or even 6-foot-and-1/2, as if often the case with inflated college numbers, Fredette is even more undersized for his role than previously thought.

He can't run the point and can't check two guards with much size. The team that drafts him will need to partner him with a big point guard who defends, and taking him suddenly gets into the problems that are created as much as the problems that his arrival solves.

Actually, it's unfair to single Fredette out for being unable to check shooting guards. That's not it.

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Scouts think Jimmer Fredette would likely work best along side a defensive-minded point guard.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

He doesn't defend anyone. It's not simply that he doesn't have the ability, either. In the greater concern for potential NBA suitors, Fredette doesn't seem to bother making much of an effort at that end.

"I think he's almost invisible defensively," one personnel director told David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com. "I watched Jackson Emery (the other BYU guard) out there and he's guarding like one and a half guys. I don't think I've ever seen (Fredette) bend his knees at the defensive end."

Everything points to an NBA career as a situational player, perhaps as a third guard, definitely needing to play alongside a bigger guard who can handle the ball, preferably with a defensive presence. That, or with a team where he can camp out on the perimeter and provide air cover that takes some of the scoring load from the stars or from the interior.

Because Fredette is a shooting savant. He can get his shot and make it, two factors that will always appeal to the pros. It's why T-shirts are selling for $20 a pop at the BYU bookstore, with white lettering on a navy blue background:

YEAH

HE SHOOTS

FROM THERE

It has Fredette's number, 32, just in case there was any doubt about the long-range specialist being hailed. Jimmer is the hero who has been named Player of the Year by some and is in contention for the national award by others, who has led the Jimmerization of college basketball, who just Jimmered the Gonzaga defense for 34 points while making seven of 12 from beyond the arc in the Round of 32.

The storyline never gets old. Kid from a small town in upstate New York is steeled by an older brother, who would take 18-year-old Jimmer, their father and a couple other friends to play pickup games against inmates at a couple area prisons. Before BYU games, Jimmer would listen to rap songs made by his brother, also Mormon. There have been a lot of reasons to fall for him so far.

Now about the rest of his career.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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