…And, there is nothing that anybody can do about it. They shouldn’t, anyway.
Why? Jimmer Fredette has been extraordinary, in a specactular way.
He’s inspired a movement of kids, accustomed to heavily tattooed role models from inner cities, to forget about dunking the basketball, and instead shoot it from beyond half-court and believe, that with hard work and a stroke of luck, they too can make it.
From cul-de-sacs, to slanted driveways and cracked porches, and even at (gasp!) inner-city playgrounds that Jimmer’s brother TJ probably raps about in his dreams, kids are hooping it up like Jimmer.
They’re on YouTube in droves, chucking up miracle shots from places 50 feet and beyond from the hoop, all in hopes of catching Jimmermania.
Fredette averaged an unreal 28.5 points per game in his senior year at BYU (32.5 in his first two games of the NCAA Tournament), and even if his season ends tomorrow, the accolades will not.
Virtually every Player of the Year trophy is poised to have his name on it, and if it doesn’t, then something is terribly wrong with the way in which the Naismith, for example, selects it winner.
Here’s how the top four Naismith Award finalists break down:
Jared Sullinger, Freshman Forward, Ohio State
With a team-leading 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and 17 double-doubles this season, Sullinger led the Buckeyes to a 32-2 record and a No. 1 overall seed in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This season, Sullinger won six consecutive and 11 total Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards, four Big 10 Player of the Week awards and won the 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Additionally, he averaged a double-double during the Big 10 Tournament en route to a Buckeye conference championship and earned the 2011 Big 10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player award.
Jimmer Fredette, Senior Guard, BYU
Looking to become the first Naismith Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year from Brigham Young, Fredette won the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year this season while averaging an NCAA-best 28.5 points and 4.2 assists per game and winning eight Mountain West Conference Player of the Week awards. Fredette’s 43 points on 14-for-24 shooting against previously unbeaten and then No. 4 San Diego State capped off a three-game, 40+ point performance for Fredette.
Nolan Smith, Senior Guard, Duke
Following in the footsteps of seven previous Men’s Naismith Trophy winners, the most from any school, Smith was named the ACC Player of the Year after averaging 21.3 points and 5.2 assists per game. He was one of only three players in the NCAA who averaged over 20 points and five assists this season. In leading the Blue Devils to their third consecutive ACC Tournament Championship, Smith averaged 18.0 points and 6.0 assists, earning him the ACC Tournament MVP.
Kemba Walker, Junior Guard, Connecticut
In his 2010-11 campaign to become the first Naismith Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year from Connecticut, Walker, during which he tallied 23.5 points and 4.3 assists per game against a tough Big East conference en route to a 25-9 conference record. In the 2011 Big East Tournament, Walker became the first player in the Big East to score 130 points in five games and was named the tournament MVP.
Sullinger is a good player on a great team, and that right there should eliminate him from Naismith contention. Smith has been Duke’s go-to guy, and he’s the sentimental favorite being that his father was the late, great Derek Smith. Walker was the only player, for a while anyway, who posed any real threat to Fredette’s scoring title, but faded in the sting of Uconn’s Big East Conference run.
Jimmer, on the other hand, withstood more scrutiny, insane crowds, rock star atmospheres and a campus scandal that rocked not only BYU, but put into question his team’s fortitude.
Now that Jimmer has helped lead his Cougars to the Sweet 16, and possibly beyond, there is no question that he is the Naismith front-runner.
Jimmer should be rewarded for his shots from beyond Heaven, though his shot selection on the court will likely bear the burden of many sleepless nights for basketball coaches the country over. But, the fact of the matter is, Jimmer hit his shots, and nobody can argue that.
Jimmer would also become the first guard to win the award since J.J. Redick of Duke won it in 2004.
Past Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award Winners
2010 Evan Turner • Ohio State
2009 Blake Griffin • Oklahoma
2008 Tyler Hansbrough • North Carolina
2007 Kevin Durant • Texas
2006 J.J. Redick • Duke
2005 Andrew Bogut • Utah
2004 Jameer Nelson • Saint Joseph’s
2003 T.J. Ford • Texas
2002 Jason Williams • Duke
2001 Shane Battier • Duke
2000 Kenyon Martin • Cincinnati
Jimmer is not only an anomaly in college basketball, he’s literally resurrected a lost art in the sport. Kids are now watching Fredette play, and chucking up prayer jumpers from Manna, wishing that the velocity with which they carefully toss their worn leather sphere somehow lands in the hoop.
Not only did Jimmer’s shots land in the basket, his memories will always be carried onward by millions of young basketball players who wish they could be like him.
What better reward than that.
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