Jimmer Fredette(notes) knows there will be doubts. He was the NCAA consensus player of the year, a dynamic scorer at Brigham Young who could dazzle the nation with 40-point games, and none of that will matter once he begins his NBA career. Skeptics still wonder whether Fredette will be able to make an impact in the pros.
"The biggest thing is that people want to see how I translate to the NBA game," Fredette told Yahoo! Sports. "There are a lot of question marks out there. There are a lot of guys who don’t think I can play at this level and I won’t be able to dominate as well as the college level. I’m not expecting to do that at the NBA level right away anyway.
"I just want to go in there and make an impact on the team any way that I can. I want to go out there and hopefully have a great rookie year. That’s what I’m looking forward to. But I think people are just curious more so than any other guy on how I do because I was a guy that was in a real spotlight in the college game and had a lot of big games. They are curious to see how I do and whether their projection on me will be right.”
With the NBA lockout threatening to postpone his first training camp – if not season – Fredette has decided to arrange his own competition, staging "Jimmer's All-Stars," a pair of games with his fellow rookies to be played in Salt Lake City on Sept. 21 and Provo, Utah, on Sept. 22. Some proceeds from the exhibition games will go to charity.
Fredette said fellow Kings draft selections Tyler Honeycutt(notes) and Isaiah Thomas(notes), Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker(notes), Portland Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith(notes) and Golden State Warriors guard Charles Jenkins(notes) are expected to play. Other rookies who have been invited include Irving, second overall pick Derrick Williams(notes) of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz draft picks Enes Kanter(notes) and Alec Burks(notes). Fredette’s team will be coached by BYU’s Dave Rose while Steve Fisher of San Diego State will lead the other team with possibly former Aztec Kawhi Leonard(notes) of the San Antonio Spurs on his roster.
With some rookies going overseas and others nervous about not being under contract, Fredette has some challenges putting together the rosters.
“It will be fun to get all of the rookies together,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot together in the last couple of months.”
So far, Fredette has been leaning on his celebrity to generate some income. He said he has yet to sign any endorsement contracts, but has been paid for nearly 10 appearances where he has signed autographs. He's also helped put on five basketball camps.
"It's great that people want me around and are willing to pay me to give some of my time and help them out whether it’s an appearance speaking to people or with autographs and pictures," he said.
Fredette, 22, has received some offers to play overseas, but said he's not entertaining them. He is working out primarily at BYU waiting anxiously for the lockout to end.
"I've been contacted by some teams, but I’m not really considering it right now," Fredette said. "I just hope they get it resolved at some point and then I will go play in the NBA. I’m just working on things that I can get better at, working on my game and get in the best condition I can be in to be ready for the NBA season whenever it starts. That’s my focus right now."
Once Fredette joins the Kings, it will be curious to see how he fits on a team that includes Tyreke Evans(notes), DeMarcus Cousins(notes), John Salmons(notes) and Marcus Thornton(notes), all of whom are scorers.
Evans has previously told Yahoo! Sports that while he welcomes Fredette, he's uncertain about his own role now. Sacramento could start Evans and Thornton in the backcourt with Fredette coming off the bench.
"Everyone is pretty young on that team," Fredette said. "They are a good group of guys that are really talented. I figured I’d fit right in. I’ve also been in contact with both [Evans and Cousins], and they said, 'Whatever you need to help just let me know.' It’s good to have them reach out to me because they are going to be the guys I’m going to be playing with.
"Hopefully, we’ll have a great relationship. It will translate on the court and we will win some basketball games."
Fredette is still living in Utah, and there was no shortage of support among Jazz fans who wanted him to begin his NBA career in Salt Lake City. The Jazz used the third overall pick to take Kanter and the 12th pick – two spots after Fredette was drafted – to select Burks.
"Obviously, everybody wanted me to be in a Jazz uniform," Fredette said. "I think the Jazz liked me, but they wanted to go for a big guy and got Kanter. I hope he has a great career and does extremely well. I think the fans are really going to like him and Alec Burks.
"You always think about, especially before the draft, ‘What if?’ It would have been a lot of fun. It’s like a second home to me. But I’ll be in Sacramento and hopefully everybody in Utah will follow my career."