College basketball is volatile. It’s the sport that lends itself the most to “anything can happen.” Whether that be huge upsets in March, last-second buzzer beaters, or, in Jimmer Fredette’s case, making shots that should be near impossible with ease.
Fredette played for the Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars from 2007-11 and was one of college basketball’s main attractions. He propelled the Cougar offense with jumpers from the parking lot, unorthodox finishes off of either foot, and a seeming command to will the ball into the hoop. Simply put, he was a pure scorer.
Jimmer’s star shined bright in Provo, Utah. But, it dimmed as he climbed to the next level. One of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history struggled to find his footing in the NBA.
What happened to Jimmer Fredette?
Jimmer Fredette College Highlights
Fredette chose BYU out of Glens Falls High School in New York. He improved each year he was on campus. His freshman numbers were modest — He averaged 7.0 points on 5.8 shots per game and shot 40.7-percent from the field. As a sophomore, Jimmer moved into a starting role and more than doubled his scoring average to 16.2. He shot 48 percent from the field on 11.6 attempts per game.
Fredette came into his own as an upperclassman. As a junior, he scored 49 points against Arizona and 45 points against TCU in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. He averaged 22.1 points per game on 14.4 field goals, shooting 45.8% from the field. Jimmer’s play led the Cougars to the 2010 NCAA Tournament. They defeated Florida 99-92 in double overtime behind 37 points from Jimmer. They lost to Kansas State 82-74 in the second round.
The Cougar point guard became a nationwide sensation as a senior. He had multiple games where he scored 30 or more, including a career-high 52 against New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference Tournament, 47 against Utah, 39 against UNLV, and 33 against Arizona. His profile exploded after beating undefeated San Diego State and Kawhi Leonard on national TV. Getting “Jimmered” became a verb. Fredette led the Cougars to two NCAA Tournament victories over Wofford and Gonzaga. They fell to Florida in the Sweet 16. Over the final season of his college career, Fredette averaged 28.9 points with a 45.2 percent field goal percentage on 20.7 shots per game.
Jimmer won the 2011 Naismith Award as national player of the year and earned All-America honors.
Jimmer Fredette’s Pro Career
The BYU basketball star was highly touted out of college due to his three-point range, free-throw consistency, and scoring ability. He was the 10th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2011 NBA Draft. The rookie was then traded to the Sacramento Kings, where “Jimmermania” followed. Jimmer had trouble adjusting as an NBA player. The shooting guard went from being the primary scorer with a perpetual green light to a role player. The feel for the NBA game was never quite grasped. He went on to play for the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, and New York Knicks before being acquired by the Westchester Knicks in the NBA Developmental League (now known as the G League). Fredette won D-League All-Star Game MVP in 2016, was offered a 10-day contract by the NBA’s Knicks in February that year, but wasn’t retained after its expiration.
He eventually left the NBA ranks signed with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in August 2016.
Fredette was able to assume the number one offensive option again for the Sharks. He averaged 37.6 points per game in his first season, including an eruption for 73 points in a double-overtime loss against the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions. The next season, he scored 75 points in one game, including 40 in the fourth quarter, in a 137-136 loss to the Beikong Fly Dragons. He won the CBA International MVP in his first season and made the All-Star team each year in the league.
Due to his meteoric scoring in the CBA, Fredette gained NBA notice and signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix Suns on March 22, 2019. He played in six games, averaging 3.7 points. In his second game back against the Utah Jazz, Fredette was met with roaring applause and a standing ovation from many fans.
The Suns declined to pick up the second year of his deal on June 24, 2019, making him a free agent and ending his brief NBA comeback.
As of last season, Fredette plays in Greece for Panathinaikos of the Greek Basket League and EuroLeague.
The former BYU star’s career isn’t what we expected, but that doesn’t take away from anything he did in college. He burned intensely and brightly, making himself a household name in the process. For Fredette, his career shows that anything can and will happen, no matter the success accrued. Just like college basketball.
This article was originally published March 16, 2020.