Even though Jimmer Fredette was the National Player of the Year and one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball, he still hears all the questions when it comes to his game at the next level. Are you athletic enough? What position will you play? Can you get your shot off in the NBA the way you did in college? Do you handle it well enough to be a point guard? The questions are numerous, but they were the same questions that he got coming out of high school and they won’t stop. While he may not have a true position right away there is one thing that Jimmer did better than anyone else in college basketball last year and that was score. That’s what the Sacramento Kings were drawn to and as soon as he was drafted, Jimmermania swept through Sacramento the same way it did in Provo the last two seasons. Just like he did when he got to BYU, it will be up to Jimmer Fredette to try and answer all the questions and prove the doubters wrong again.
Jimmer Fredette joined 97.5 the Zone in Salt Lake City with Gordon Monson to talk about what this season compared to last and what he is trying to do to get ready for his first NBA season, whether or not he thinks he is a better player at this point than he was a year ago, on the decision to put together some rookie games, how surprised he was by the reaction of people in Sacramento when he was drafted there in the first round, if he uses the criticism as motivation, and how he plans to handle all the pressure that is now put on him as a first round pick.
How he is preparing for his first season in the NBA:
“I think the biggest thing is trying to get in the best shape that you can possibly be in. You have to stay healthy throughout this whole NBA season. They play a lot more games than college. Talked to a lot of NBA players about being in the best shape that you can be in because it’s a grind and health is a huge part. Also continue to work on my skills, continue to work on the pick and roll game offensively and defensively because that’s a big part of the NBA now. I gotta continue to get better at that.”
Whether or not he feels he is a better player now than he was last year:
“I think I am. I think I continue to progress. That’s something I try to do every single year. If you look at my college career I continued to progress and continued to play better. Hopefully that continues into the NBA and even if the numbers don’t translate I will still be playing at a higher level and hopefully a better basketball player and teammate and just an all-around better player.”
On the decision to put together some rookie games:
“I think it’s going to be a great cause for everybody. It’s tough since everybody is in a lockout. There’s not much going on, not much basketball. I think it would be a great idea to get hopefully some great NBA draftees to be in this game with us and to go out and have a great time for a great cause. That will be great to raise some money for that and be able to give the fans a great time and hopefully a great competitive game with some very good talent and be able to show my appreciation to the fans that have supported me the last four years. I think it will be a great thing all the way around.”
How surprised he was by the reaction he got from fans in Sacramento:
“It was really actually amazing to me to see the effect that myself and this team has had on this country and all over the world. It’s amazing how many people are paying attention to college sports and paid attention to our team last year but it was a lot of fun to see. We had a great year and a lot of time when a mid-major team that is not always in the limelight comes out of nowhere and has a great team and has a player that can come out and score a lot of points people are very, very interested in seeing them and they want to know if they can play against the big guys and go out and compete with anybody. I think we did a good job of proving that last year and I think everybody just kinda latched on to our team. It was amazing to see. When you’re going through it you don’t often think about it that much but now I’ve been able to reflect on it a little bit it’s just amazing how many people were affected and how fun of a season it was.”
Whether or not he uses criticism as motivation:
“I definitely do. I’ve been doing that my entire career. It’s been something that has been following me for a long time. A lot of people didn’t think I could even make it to the Division 1 level and succeed and now that I’m at the NBA level it’s the same deal. It’s always something that I think about but I don’t really hold grudges against anybody that doesn’t think I can do it. I just go out and try to prove them wrong and hopefully some day they will become believers. That’s kinda my mindset and it’s more of going out there and making myself believe I can do it; Going out there working hard for myself, my family, and everybody that is close to me that is involved and all the fans out there. Hopefully I will be able to do that.”
How he will handle the pressure of being a first round pick by the Kings:
“I’m gonna embrace it. I’m really looking forward to going out there and playing with these guys. We have a young, talented team who started to win some games toward the end of the season when they had everybody healthy and ready to go. I think it’s a good core group of guys that are ready to go. I’m really excited to hopefully go out there and keep the fans really excited about Sacramento Kings basketball. That’s kinda our job and what we’re there for. I think the fans have a lot to be excited for. I’m gonna embrace everything that comes with it. Hopefully go out there and keep everything going out there.”