January 27, 2011
I’m not 100% sure I watched the best player in collegebasketball this morning. But I’mpositive I watched the best offensive player in the country. In fact, I think BYU guard Jimmer Fredette isprobably the best offensive player I’ve seen in college basketball since KevinDurant’s way-too-short stint at Texas.
I wasn’t sure I even wanted to watch BYU and San Diego State. I’ll admit I’m a college basketballsnob. I mean, yeah, the teams were acombined 39-and-1 before last night, but they play in the Mountain West. Sure, they’re ranked in the top ten, butthere’s no way they deserve to be there, right? I mean, San Diego Statein the discussion with Kansas? BYU better than Missouri? Come on.
I went ahead and set the game up to DVR and watched it thismorning before my kids woke up. Now, I’mnot telling you that those things in the previous paragraph are necessarilytrue. But after watching the Aztecs andthe Cougars last night, they’re up for debate. On the right night—in fact on a lot of nights—those teams can beatanyone in the country.
San Diego Statewasn’t great last night. They struggledto score, they make Kansas Statelook like a team full of Rick Barry’s at the free throw line and they had a badnight on the road. But I didn’t watchthat game to see San Diego State. I watched it to see Jimmer Fredette.
I had but one impression: Holy Moses!
At one point, Fredette scored 17 straight BYU points. At another point, he was 12-for-16 from thefield. He ended with 43, his third40-plus game of the season. No one elsein college basketball has more than one.
He did it in every way possible. He drove. He split double-teams and got fouled. He hit open threes. He hitguarded threes. The kid is an offensivemachine. In fact, when he missed a26-footer ten seconds into the shot clock, I was not only surprised, but Ididn’t even think it was a bad shot to take. There ARE no bad shots for Jimmer Fredette.
The announcers for the game (I may have enjoyed it more ifSteve Lappas didn’t spend the whole night screaming at me and reminding me heonce coached in the Big East) said that Fredette’s decision out of high schoolcame down to BYU and Siena. He was athree-star guard not ranked nationally. He had five offers, from powerhouses like Utah(post Keith Van Horn and Andre Miller), UMASS (post-Calipari) and Marshall. You know what? Sometimes we’re wrong.
This is a Missouriblog. But I’m a huge college basketballfan. I watch at least one game five daysa week. And when I see something thatmakes me an even bigger fan, I want to tell somebody about it.
Jimmer Fredette did that. The small, curly-headed white kid at BYU is an offensive player for ageneration. He might play defensetoo. I don’t know. I was too in awe of his game on the other endto really notice.
If you haven’t seen the Cougars play, do yourself a favorand make a point of it. Because some fanbase is going to draw them in the NCAA Tournament and have no idea that they’refacing a player who could shoot BYU to unprecedented heights in March.