College Basketball: Jimmermania has hit America
By Lynn DeBruin
PROVO, Utah ó ěJimmermaniaî is reaching a new level of crazy.
Just hours after frenzied fans stormed the court and tried lifting Jimmer Fredette into the air after he scored 43 points to help BYU knock No. 4 San Diego State from the unbeaten ranks, the rest of the sporting world was chiming in about BYUís star guard.
The NBAís top scorer, Kevin Durant, tweeted that Fredette ěis the best scorer in the world.î
The Harlem Globetrotters issued a ěTrotter tributeî for a Curly Neal-like performance in Wednesday nightís big matchup.
And Fredette wasnít even hitting 3s from NBA range as he has done in topping 40 points three of the last four games for the No. 9 Cougars (20-2 after a loss Saturday to New Mexico).
ěItís something Iíll never forget, especially with such a big win and all the hype around the game,î Fredette said of the NCAA tournament-like atmosphere Wednesday night in the sold-out 22,700-seat arena. ěItís a special memory, something Iíll remember forever.î
While the momentum has been building at BYU since last year, only lately has Fredette been getting respect at the national level.
ESPN analyst Chad Ford moved Fredette up to No. 12 on his NBA draft board.
ěNBA scouts are tough to impress but even they are giving in,î Ford tweeted. ěHuge game for his draft stock tonight. San Diego State has NBA-caliber athletes. If Fredette can score against them, he can score in the NBA.î
No one can deny Fredette is doing something big if his following has risen beyond sports into the entertainment world.
Rapper Nelly tweeted that Fredette is ědefinitely the truth!î And musician Adam Duritz of the band Counting Crows said Fredette reminded him of Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams.
The 195-pound Fredette has never met Williams, but mixed it up in Las Vegas last summer with some of the NBAís best as part of a select team composed of 20 top college players.
ěIíve seen guys that are unbelievable and D-Will is a a guy I look up to … when I see how he handles the ball,î Fredette said Thursday. ěHopefully that will help my game get better.î
Fredette also took Durantís comments in stride.
ěIt was kind of cool to hear (about) them,î said Fredette, who has only a Facebook page but no Twitter account.
BYU coach Dave Rose, only a texter himself, called Fredette special but said he seemed almost embarrassed by some of the attention.
ěWe knew if Jimmer had the type of year heís capable of having thereíd be a lot of national media on him. I donít know that we expected him to have a year like heís having right now,î Rose said.
Fredette is leading the nation in scoring with a 27.4-point average (he had 32 Saturday), which would be the highest since Steph Curry averaged 28.6 in 2008-09. He is shooting 48 percent from the field, 42 percent on 3-pointers and has averaged 38.2 points over the last four games. He needs 361 points to break Danny Aingeís career mark of 2,467.
ěThese players play out here in the West sometimes in obscurity. Itís good for them when they get a chance for people to see their games. But you have to win games. Jimmer could be doing all this for a 9-15 team and it wouldnít be a story,î Rose said.
In Provo the BYU faithful worship every 3.
They braved wintry conditions Monday to get the best seats in the Marriott Center, then filled the student sections two hours early on Wednesday.
In white hair, blue hair and one even wearing a blue-painted Cheesehead, they created a deafening environment, with signs as creative as Fredette himself.
ěJimmerís in range when he gets off the bus,î read one.
ěThe Real King James,î proclaimed another in reference to NBA star LeBron James.
There also were ěFredette About Itî and ěYou Got Jimmered.î
The only fans disappointed seemed to be a trio of girls who were crushed to learn Fredette had a girlfriend.
Though the Aztecs made him work for every point Wednesday, he still scored inside and out. He crossed-over to get by Aztec counterpart D.J. Gay then used a head fake to score down low on 6-9 forward Malcolm Thomas. He scored BYUís final 15 points of the first half and 24 of 27 in one spurt.
ě(Fredette) is as good as any player I have ever coached,î San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said.
Heíll get another look at him Feb. 26 in San Diego for the sold-out rematch.
For now, Fredetteís mind, tweets aside, must be focused on whatís ahead. The Cougars have now lost three in a row at New Mexico.
ěLast night was great, but to make that game worth something weíve got to win,î Fredette said. ěWe canít let down.î
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