Jimmer Fredette is Grateful and Motivated by Second Chance in the NBA

Jimmer Fredette
by Cody Cunningham

The 2011 National College Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette is one of the most memorable collegiate athletes of the last decade. After spending the previous three seasons playing basketball in China with the Shanghai Sharks, the sharpshooter has returned to the NBA and is suiting up for the Phoenix Suns.

After an electric four-year career with BYU, Fredette entered the NBA in 2011 and played in the league for five seasons before signing a three-year contract with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. He was named the CBA International MVP in 2017 and led the league in scoring with 36.9 points per game (including a league record 219 three-pointers) last season.

With his contract now completed in China, Fredette is back in the states with a chip on his shoulder as he looks to prove himself on an NBA roster.

“Not a lot of times do guys get second chances or second opportunities, especially at 30 years old,” Fredette said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity and I realize that. I’m not going to take anything for granted. I’m going to go out there and play hard every day, practice hard and just help our team as much as I possibly can.”

Following his final game with the New York Knick in the 2015-16 season, Fredette went through his options before deciding to move across the world and play for the Sharks. His time, dedication and success in China have paid off as it has now opened up another door for him to return to the NBA.

“It was a lot of fun,” Fredette said. “It was different experience for sure. I never thought that I would ever go over to China for any reason. Then to be able to go over there and play basketball, embracing the culture. Shanghai is an amazing city. The fans were so nice to my family and to myself and just treated us as their own. I’m extremely grateful to the Sharks for that opportunity. It’s definitely a different type of basketball and a different type of living, but I had a great experience. “

While many players who leave the NBA to play overseas rarely get a second run in the league, Fredette remained confident that one day he’d return.

“I always thought positively,” Fredette said. “I thought it was going to happen. You’ve got to kind of speak things into existence if you really want them to happen. Obviously, I’ve had some tough times in my career. I’ve had some ups and downs just like anybody’s life, but you just keep continuing to work hard. I knew that if I kept doing that at the end of this year I would have gotten an opportunity. It happened and I’m here and I’m ready for it.”

As for what keeps him going – his love of basketball.

“I love to play, enjoy the game and when you’re a competitive person, you always have that drive try to succeed and it felt like I had some unfinished business that I needed to work at,” Fredette said. “I’ve been able to reach a lot of my goals throughout my career and trying to reach another one.”

Fredette built his career off of his deep shooting accuracy, his playmaking and his ability to run the court. While overseas he spent time working on playing off the ball as well, back in the States, he has seen the NBA continue to shift to fit his style of basketball.

“The focus of the NBA now is shooting three, playing fast,” Fredette said. “When I came in, it wasn’t necessarily as much like that. It’s definitely tailored a little bit more to my game at this point then when I first came in… It’s something that I’ve continued to watch and continued to see.”

While he hasn’t played for an NBA team in three years, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been in on the action. He and the Sharks visited Houston for a preseason game at the beginning of this season and Fredette showed what he’s still capable of dropping 41 points against the Rockets.

“Being able to play against an NBA team again was fun to be able to do,” Fredette said. “To go out there and do what you do on the court and have people in the states be able to watch me again. Not many people have been able to watch me the last three years being over in China. Games are at 5:30 in the morning and you can’t really see them. It was fun to be able to do that in preseason.”

Now logging actual NBA minutes again, Fredette sees himself fitting in well with the Suns young core.

“They like to play fast,” Fredette said. “They like to shoot the three. Two things that I like to do and that I do well, but also I’m more of a veteran player now. A guy that comes in and can do his work every day. Try to help any way that I can – on the floor or off the floor. And then provide a spark. Be able to come in and be able to score the basketball in a bunch of different ways. It’s a really good fit for me and I’m excited to be here.”

With only eight games left in the season, Fredette is locked-in and looking to come in and be aggressive immediately.

“You’ve got to prove yourself,” Fredette said. “You’ve got to prove your worth to the team and what you can do and that starts day one. So you’ve got to go out there and show what you can do every single day and be a pro. That’s what being a pro is – being ready every day.”

It all begins on a reunion tour for Fredette as his first two games are on the road against the team that drafted him in the Sacramento Kings and the state he played college in with the Utah Jazz. While he only logged four minutes against the Kings on Saturday, Head Coach Igor Kokoskov said that they will slowly ease him into action.

Fredette and the Suns travel to Utah for a matchup against the Jazz on Monday. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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