Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | 2:20 a.m.
Also heard in the gym...
- Fredette on who he would pick right now to win the MWC next season if he couldn't pick BYU: "It's hard not to pick San Diego State, just because they have so many guys returning. Pretty much the whole team is returning. They were very good last year, got some momentum going into the NCAA tournament by winning a conference championship, so I think they'll be a team that's playing really well."
- Fredette on whether he's heard the comparison between him and a European guard before: "A couple of times. Not a whole lot, but obviously Europeans can shoot the ball, they're crafty, they're tricky, they know what they're doing. I try to do that, because obviously I'm not the most athletic kid. I'm able to get my shot up, and that's how they play. It's a good thing for me to be out there and just help Team USA for what they're going to see at the World Championships."
- Kansas State guard and Select team member Jacob Pullen on Fredette: "He's a unique scorer. He really finds a way to put the ball in the basket. And a lot of scorers have something special that they do, but he finds a way to do a variety of things. He shoots it from deep, he gets in the lane, he gets to the free throw line and that was the thing we really had to focus on was not fouling him and trying to keep him contained (in the NCAA tournament meeting with BYU). The good players will find ways to score and get points, but you try to keep them contained. That's what I thought we did."
When BYU guard Jimmer Fredette worked out for NBA team after NBA team in selling himself as a potential draft pick this summer, he constantly was left guessing.
Rarely — if ever — did any of those doing the evaluating give him open critiques or pointers on what he needed to improve if he went back to school.
Now, he'll learn firsthand this week what those within several NBA franchises wouldn't tell him.
Fredette, who withdrew his name from the prospect pool late in the pre-draft process, is one of 20 top college talents in Las Vegas this week with the USA Basketball Select team. The Select squad is serving as a scout team of sorts for the 20 prospective members of Team USA this week on the UNLV campus. The Team USA roster will be chopped down in preparations for the FIBA World Championships in Turkey, which begin Aug. 28.
"This is some of the best basketball that you could ever play, against the NBA's best and with 20 of the best kids playing the college game right now," he said before Tuesday's afternoon session. "It's a great time to learn, pick some people's brains and see if I can get a little better."
Getting a little better probably will help Fredette's draft résumé next spring, which should be a scary thought for those collegiate opponents who have experienced his abilities up close.
In 34 games last season, the first team All-Mountain West Conference performer averaged 22.1 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game while shooting eye-popping percentages from 3-point range (44.0) and the foul line (89.2).
Fredette truly burst onto the national stage, though, in leading the Cougars to their first NCAA tourney win since 1990 — a 99-92 double overtime triumph over Florida in Oklahoma City on March 18. He scored his 37 points in a variety of ways, and his popularity hit a new peak.
Despite losing in the second round two days later to Kansas State, Fredette rode that wave of momentum and declared himself eligible for the 2010 NBA draft. He did not hire an agent, though, leaving the door open for a potential return to Provo.
That's the route he ultimately chose.
"It was just the fact that I couldn't get any guarantees from teams to pick me," he said. "That's something that you have to deal with now. It was tough, but they all seemed interested and I was a possibility for all of them. It was a tough decision, it really was, but at the last second I decided it would be best to come back."
Before a final decision, though, he worked out for several NBA teams, and despite the road ending with a quad injury in his final display — a workout for the New York Knicks — he learned plenty of lessons.
From those brief workouts alone, Fredette said, he could tell that he needed to fine-tune some things within his offensive arsenal and become an even sharper defender. The kicker was a clear need to improve his conditioning before being ready to bump shoulders on a nightly basis with the world's best.
Now fully healed, he's ready to soak in some more.
"Obviously, Derrick Rose is over there (with Team USA), Rajon Rondo and Chauncey Billups and all of those guys," he said. "I'm going to be trying to gauge myself against all of them. They're all different players, but they're all at the top level in the NBA, so I'll see what I need to work on and improve on. I'm excited for it."
The skill set that Fredette already possesses is pretty unique in its own right.
That is what Villanova coach Jay Wright, who is coaching the Select Team alongside Washington's Lorenzo Romar, said largely helped him make the cut at tryouts and earned him a trip to Las Vegas.
"We're trying to simulate for the NBA guys what the European players will play like, and he's like a European guard," Wright said. "He's very physical and tough with the ball. You can't knock him off his spot, he really showed that (on Monday) in our scrimmages here.
"He's got the intelligence of an international player, and his strength — he's a strong guard who's got good size and he really knows how to play. That's one of the things the NBA guys here will really have to work against is crafty, smart guards. Jimmer is that kind of guard."
Fredette could even use that rare style of play to garner a bit of preseason national Player of the Year buzz, as he got a small taste of it at the end of the 2009-10 campaign thanks to several late-season scoring outbursts.
BYU's potential success surely won't hurt that effort, either, as the Cougars return the top three scorers from a 30-6 team and again will be deep.
Plus, he'll hardly be a secret any more when the season begins. That's a role that Fredette said he's ready and willing to fill.
"That's the position you want to be in if you want to be a good player and get to the next level. That's where you have to be," he said. "It just comes with the territory.
"But I'm really excited to go out there, not think about it and just play my game. I know that if my team's winning, we'll get some good press and good notoriety."