SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – This is a wiser, more mature Jimmer. Now 30 and with his 5th NBA team, former BYU great Jimmer Fredette hopes to stick in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns.
“I just have matured as a basketball player and as a person in general,“ said Jimmer before the Suns game against the Utah Jazz tonight. “I have a family now and that puts things into perspective. Just go out there, play my game, by myself, and be aggressive. I’ve worked on a lot of different things playing in China. Being able to play so much game time and on the court time the last three years really makes you better.“
Jimmer averaged 36 points per game for the Shanghai Sharks this past season, and once scored 75 in a game. He could have stayed there, and they’d build statues of him. His nickname was the “Lonely God“. So will he miss having that kind of status?
“Hopefully I still have it,“ Fredette said. “I’m still here. They’ll still always be able to refer to me as that wherever I am in the world. I’m grateful for my three years over there. The fans were so great to me and my family, so I would like to be here as long as I can. That’s the goal.“
The Suns have a team option on Fredette for next season, but they aren’t going to decide his future solely based on these final eight games of this season.
“We know his talent, and we know what he is capable of doing,“ said Phoenix head coach Igor Kokoskov, a former Jazz assistant. “So, he just joined the team a couple days ago. We don’t want to overreact in terms of putting too much expectations and pressure on him that he’s got to step on the court and put up 40 points every night.“
“Just kind of be a pro,“ Fredette said about what the Suns expect of him. “They want me to be a guy that comes in here and shows some of the younger guys how to be a professional basketball player day in and day out.“
In his first game back in the NBA on Saturday, Fredette didn’t score in four minutes of action. He hopes to play more tonight in a place he holds near and dear to his heart.
“It’s always good to back in Utah,“ said Fredette, who was the national player of the year at BYU in 2011. “I haven’t played here in a while, so it’s fun to get back and see some friends. I’m sure it will be a great crowd tonight with a lot of BYU fans and Utah fans. I always get a mixed reaction, so I’m sure it will happen again.“