NEW YORK – The horde of reporters circling the table in the ballroom at the Westin hotel in Times Square was so thick, it was difficult to see which NBA draft prospect they were interviewing.
It wasn’t Duke’s Kyrie Irving or Arizona’s Derrick Williams, even though both are expected to be taken among the top three picks. In fact, it wasn’t anyone expected to be chosen among the first five selections.
The center of all the attention Wednesday afternoon was once again Jimmer Fredette, who has grown used to attracting a crowd after his standout career at Brigham Young. That’s one reason why Fredette feels he’s ready for any pressure that will come from playing in the NBA – even if he ends up with the Utah Jazz and all their Jimmer-ite fans.
“Playing for BYU, it was a crazy media circus,” Fredette said. “People were expecting 30, 40, 50 points a night. You had to go against defenses that were doubling and triple-teaming you. That’s a lot of pressure to go out there and do that. I think the pressure, I’ll handle it well.
“The fans are more basketball knowledgeable and I think they will be patient. They’ll know I might not play a whole lot right away. But if I get the opportunity I’m going to go out there and play as well as I possibly can. Hopefully, they will appreciate that. I will continue to grow as a basketball player and they’ll continue to love me.”
Fredette earned all the attention after leading the nation in scoring with 28.8 points per game and winning the Naismith and Wooden awards. But there also are concerns about how Fredette’s game will transition to the NBA. Is he too small at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds? Is he athletic enough for the NBA? Will he be enough of a willing passer to be a viable point guard?
Fredette believes he answered the doubts through workouts with the Jazz (No. 3 and 12), Sacramento Kings (7), Phoenix Suns (13), Indiana Pacers (15) and New York Knicks (17). He said he picked those five teams to work out for because their up-tempo style of play fits him.
“All of them said, ‘You’re actually a lot more athletic than I thought you were,’ ” Fredette said. “That was my job was to go in there and show them I’m kind of deceptive. When I’m playing, you might not see the flashy being able to get by guys. I get by guys all the time, but for some reason that goes unnoticed.
“It’s all about going out there and showing you can do it playing against whoever they put in front of you. I thought I did a good job of that in these workouts.”
But can Fredette score in the NBA like he did in college?
“You never know if you're going to get that type of green light,” Fredette said. “I had the ultimate green light at BYU. I got to shoot a ton of shots. We needed that for us to be successful. That’s why I did that. We’ll see. But I think I can score the basketball at a high rate in the NBA. I think that’s one thing I do well.”
There has been speculation that the Kings could take Fredette seventh. He thinks his best workout was with the Pacers, who could take him despite already having a young point guard (Darren Collison(notes)) on their roster.
“I think I really impressed all of the teams that I went to,” Fredette said.